AFS Blog

Future City Competition

Posted on January 22, 2018 | by Kathy Black
Future City Competition

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, everyone is a stakeholder in an aging society! And it turns out, some pretty great ideas just might come from where we’d least expect it! In this case, the “fresh eyes” of adolescents may well foretell a future that will benefit people of all ages!

Future City is a project-based learning program where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future. The 2017-18 Future City Competition theme invited middle school students across the world to design an “Age-Friendly City.” This required students to envision urban environments that will keep adults active, engaged, and independent. Students were encouraged to conceptualize accessible and safe transportation options, barrier-free access to buildings and infrastructure, employment opportunities, social programs, and access to health care support and services.

Working in a team with an educator and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) mentor, students presented their vision of the future through a virtual city design, a 1,500 word essay, a scale model of their city (built with recycled materials), and a short presentation to a panel of STEM professionals. Teams across 41 regions in the United States presented their ideas at regional competitions in January. The American regional winners will face off at the Finals in Washington, DC, in February where they will join a growing roster of international teams, including those from Canada, Egypt, and China. In the US, more than 40,000 students, representing 1,350 schools take part in the Future City® Competition.

On January 12th, middle school students in St. Petersburg gathered to present their models to judges followed by a question and answer period about the city. The students’ models were innovative and futuristic – akin to the Jetson age. Here are a few highlights of the top five models:

“ForElsia” – This age-friendly city model was named after an interview with an 84-year-old woman named ‘Elsie.’ This city included a robotic guardian that “always monitors Elsie’s health.” In this futuristic world (just 100 years out), a “capsule” is embedded behind everyone’s ear at birth which is also used to monitor the health of people, detect and prevent illness, and “dose medications” as needed. The capsule also can create cheer in one’s life and summon an ambulance as well after a fall. A transit system – the EAA (Easy Access for All) – represents an energy efficient on-demand service for people at all life stages and abilities. Multifunctional specialized buildings serve many purposes in the city – including work for those who need employment and care for those who need assistance.

ForElsia – A Future City model


Lumonica envisions a city that includes an underground layer that can provide high-quality air control. The lower level is equipped with malls, parks, and well-sized sidewalks to accommodate pedocycles (bike/tricycle) that becomes motorized after you reach your daily steps! Communal housing on the top layer provides “vertical” living which, according to the students, is easier for getting around than “wide horizontal living.” The students also reported that this living arrangement promotes socialization and can combat the growing issue of isolation and loneliness experienced today by many. Drones monitor the city in all ways- detecting the need for services and deploying needed services and supplies. The drones are also connected with big data and manage everyone’s dietary needs as well which is logged along with all health readings. As a novel way to counter obesity in the future, people in Lumonica can exercise on treadmills, and as an added incentive, the energy created from the walk/run can be used to power the city which is reciprocated with tax breaks for citizens!

Lumonica – A Future City model


“Kroy Wen” -or “New York” in reverse is presented as just that – a city that offers just the opposite of living in New York right now. According to the students, robots will be deployed to help keep people safe – such as preventing falls. These helpful “bots” as they are called (though each lifelike “bot” is named by its owner) are free to residents in the city and can assess one’s health simply by touch. This city runs largely via solar power and emits no pollution.

Kroy Wen


The age-friendly city called Blossom Hill showcased a robot “companion” who also acts as a health assistant and provides reminders to augment any cognitive decline. This city also provides robot pets or “receptive animal organizations” which look like “typical pets” that include sensors to create holographic images for play. Public transit utilizes magnetic transportation and laser connections connect people to places such as gyms. Lifelong education for seniors is tech-delivered and focused on maximizing tech use and provided via the libraries in Blossom Hill.

Blossom Hill




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