Students from Vonore Middle School (VMS) are on their way to Washington, D.C., to compete on the national level.

On Saturday, Jan. 12, students from VMS were part of the 2019 Tennessee Future City Regional Competition held at the University of Tennessee. DiscoverE’s Future City Competition is a nonprofit educational program that asks middle-school students to imagine, design and build cities of the future.

Students who were participating in the competition spent the first half of the school year working on designing cities that could withstand natural disasters, since that was this year’s theme. In order to complete the requirements of the competition, students had to create virtual cities and PowerPoint presentations detailing the progress of that city and what it helped them learn about infrastructure. They also had to write an essay detailing the innovative and futuristic solutions included in their city design. These items, along with a Project Plan, had to be submitted online before Winter Break.

In order to showcase their planning and design, students created scale models of the cities they had outlined in their essays. The models are 25 inches by 50 inches and made primarily from recycled materials, as not to exceed the strict $100 budget limit set forth by the competition.

On competition day, students presented these models to a panel of judges. The presentations had a time limit of seven minutes followed by five minutes of questioning.

VMS had four teams in the competition and each one excelled in various areas, including the competition day scavenger hunt around the engineering building.

Team Jornado consisted of Aiyahna Newman, Brianna Rucker, Jesse Winger and Cooper Lovingood.

The sixth-grade team of Blizzartica won an award for Best Approach to Problem Solving. Blizzartica was made up of Sophie Wheeler, Emily Coles, Anna Stephens, J.D. Watson, Megan Ladd and Ryan Hall.

The seventh-grade team of Buoyanta won the award for Best Land Surveying Practices, along with a $100 prize. Buoyanta was made up of students Faith Heller, Lily Frasure, Savannah Best, Bailee Millsaps, Mylie Phillips, Layla Brown, Klaire Heller and Olivia Slaughter.

The eighth-grade team, called Kyoko City, won the award for Planning Excellence and was the overall winner at the state level. The team of Tori Shaver, Angelina Ervin, Colton Duckett, Brooke Freeman, Twain Cansler, Michah Shedd and Jaden McCallie receive an all-expense-paid trip to represent Vonore and the whole state of Tennessee to compete in the Future City Competition National Finals in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 17-19.

“This was a true community effort and the teams are so grateful to the administration for supporting this project,” said VMS STEAM teacher Philina Evans. “And, all the teachers that offered their expertise along the way from checking essays and works cited to building moving parts from found pieces in the lab, to staying after school many hours while students worked on model building.”

Evans said the state-winning team even had a piece of rebar gifted to them by janitor Johnny Love.

“It was saved from when our school was built,” she said. “The team used it as a pointer throughout their presentation and then as an example when it was time to talk about the concrete and steel structure that helped to elevate their city.”

Evans also thanked the students’ parents.

“They were willing to pick their children up after they had stayed late at school and many of them were responsible for transporting the large models to competition and making sure they got there in one piece,” she said.

In addition, Evans complimented the mentors that were recommended by Pat Bryant through a partnership the school has with Cleveland State Community College’s Vonore campus.

“From Carlex we had Mike Mund, David Windsor and Paul Stevens. We also had Bob Elgin and Larry Taylor, who teach the Lego Robotics STEAM summer camp at Cleveland State to come over and help us,” said Evans. “Also, a huge thanks to Cooper Lovingood for being our alternate, ready to step in at a moment’s notice anywhere we needed him!”

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