Future City Iowa

Future City Menu

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.
Starting with the question, “How can we make the world a better place?” students imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future that showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue.

Students Participating in Future City:

  • Apply math and science concepts to real-world issues
  • Develop writing, public speaking, problem solving, and time management skills
  • Research and propose solutions to engineering challenges
  • Discover different types of engineering and explore careers options
  • Learn how their communities work and become better citizens
  • Develop strong time management and project management skills

National Competition
Washington DC, February 17-21, 2018
For Teachers and Coaches
Future City Handbook
Need to Know Information

Future City 2017

The Age-Friendly City

The 2017-2018 theme is The Age-Friendly City. Teams will identify an age-related challenge that exists in today’s urban environments and engineer two innovative solutions that allow their future city’s senior citizens to be as active and independent as they want to be.”

Building Your Team

“My team may have made this city, but I was the one who built this team.”


  • Three student presenters, however, more can participate
  • A Teacher
  • An Engineer/Mentor
  • Up to 4 teams from each registered school can compete at the Regional Competition in January.


  • Teachers/Coaches include certified teachers, parents, community members interested in leading teams.


  • Provide technical assistance
  • Devotes 20 to 40 hours of their time over the length of the project

Managing Your Team

Finding Mentors

  • Local Companies related to the theme
  • Technical/Engineering Firms
  • City/County Officials or Engineers
  • PTA
  • Parents
  • Sponsors
  • National Engineering and Professional Organizations
  • If all these fails, contact the Regional Coordinators;
    •  Kristine Sorensen (Kristine@newbo.co)


  • Only the three presenters are eligible for awards at the Regional and National Competitions
  • Special Awards from Sponsors (Special Awards change annually depending on the Sponsors each year). Remember to register your team for our regional special awards.
  • Regional winners – Receive trophies, medals
  • First Place winners – Receive trophies (regional and national), medals, and a scholarship from the University of Iowa. This team will go on to compete in the National Finals in Washington, DC in February.

Special Awards

We will present  “Special Awards” at the 2018 Iowa Regional Future City Competition. Teams of judges from local businesses will talk to students about their cities. Prior to the competition, each team will select four Special Awards for which they would like to be considered.

 Most Innovative System Design

  • The model that integrates the most innovative system (e.g. transportation, water, and wastewater) for a community.
  • Sponsored by American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

 Best Community Design

  • The model that incorporates a variety of community activities that will appeal to a broad range of ages and interests.
  • Sponsored by Rockwell Collins (1st & 2nd place awarded)

 Most Diverse Infrastructure

  • The model that displays the most diverse use of materials and shapes.
  • Sponsored by Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

 Most Innovative Moving Part

  • The model that presents the most innovative moving part that functions without damaging the model.
  • Sponsored by Jaycob and Friends

Most Innovative Power Distribution or Communications System

  • Model with the most innovative method or technique for generating or transmitting power or providing communications.
  • Sponsored by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Cedar Rapids Section

Best Quality and Planning

  • The model that demonstrates a well-developed plan and the implementation of that plan.
  • Sponsored by American Society of Quality

 Most Creative Use of Recycled Items

  • Model with the most original and unexpected use of recycled or repurposed materials to portray an aspect of the community.
  • Sponsored by The Curiosity Path (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awarded)

 Environmental Vision Award

  • The city that demonstrates the best environmental vision for clean air, water, and land.
  • Sponsored by Terracon

Best Use of Public Transportation

  • A model that demonstrates 2 separate types of transportation available for elder citizens at times and routes most convenient for them.
  • Sponsored by Keystone Cedars

Healthy Aging at Home

  • Best home improvements for seniors to enjoy spending time in a previously well-known setting.
  • Sponsored by The University of Iowa Center on Aging

Best Land Management

  • Some of the best ways to protect the environment are to minimize land disturbance and protect existing natural resources such as woodlands, prairies, and water resources.
  • The challenge in development is to reduce environmental impact by using the lay of the land to determine the best location for things such as buildings, streets, schools, etc.
  • Sponsored by MMS Consultants

Human-centered Design Award

  • Human-centered design begins with getting to know the people you are designing for and creating solutions that are designed to fit their needs.
  • Please give evidence of how you gathered your information and how it influenced your design
  • Sponsored by Kor, LLC

Best Constructed Model

  • The model that demonstrates the best construction principles which insure its sturdiness and durability
  • Sponsored by Carpenters Local 308/1260

Best Land Surveying Practices

  • Best explanation of land surveying practices in determining property boundary lines in the city’s residential, commercial and residential zones.
  • Sponsored by NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying)

Team Awards

Along with your teams’ choices of four special awards, all teams are automatically eligible for the following awards as well!

Best City Essay

  • Best city essay that meets all competition requirements voted on by judges before Regional Competition.
  • Sponsored by Future City Iowa

 Best City Model

  • Best city model that meets all competition requirements voted on by judges during the Regional Competition.
  • Sponsored by Future City Iowa

 Best Virtual City

  • Best virtual city submitted that meets all competition requirements voted on by judges before Regional Competition
  • Sponsored by Future City Iowa

Regional Competition

The Iowa Regional Competition will be held on January 20, 2018, at Prairie Point Middle School, 8015 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Competition Schedule: Teams will be divided among 10 classrooms

8:00-8:45 am — Team Registration

8:00-9:15 am — Penalty Police check models

9:00-9:45 am — Special Award judging

9:45-10:00 am — Judging Round 1 (10 teams)

10:05-10:20 am — Judging Round 2 (10 teams)

10:25-10:40 am — Judging Round 3 (10 teams)

10:40-10:50 am — Break

10:55-11:10 am — Judging Round 4 (10 teams)

11:15-11:30 am — Judging Round 5 (9 teams)

11:35-11:50 am — Judging Round 6 (9 teams)

12:30-1:00 pm — Awards Ceremony (Special Awards and Top 5 only)

Top Five Judging will take place from 2:00 – 4:30 pm

Want to Volunteer?

We’re always looking for great mentors, teachers, and judges. Sign up today to join us!

Q: Where is the Iowa Competition held?

A: Our Regional Competition takes place at Prairie Point Middle School. The 2018 Future City Competition is held in 34 states across the country and 3 other countries (China, Canada and Egypt).

Q: Is it necessary to have an engineer mentor work with the students?

A: We highly recommend it. Engineers, architects, and other technical professionals bring practical experience and advice on designing and building the city. We want students to understand how technology impacts our lives.  Because of the nature of the competition, a mentor from the engineering community is preferred, but a mentor can be anyone involved in a technical profession.

Q: What is the financial cost to participate?

A: There will be some cost in building the city model, and perhaps a small cost for presentation materials.  There is a $100 limit per team for all model and presentation materials whether direct or in-kind.  Schools may solicit support from local community organizations.  The model requires students to use recyclable materials, which doesn’t count toward the $100 limit.

It is also permissible for the engineer volunteers to generate or solicit support.

A Competition Expense Form is required from each team  Make sure to bring this completed form and all receipts with you to the Regional Competition.

Q: If we win, are our expenses paid to go to the National Competition in Washington, DC?

A:  The National Future will provide airfare and lodging for the five team members: the three students, one teacher, and one mentor. Some meals and food vouchers are provided. Team members will be responsible for all additional expenses such as ground transportation (including to and from their local airport,) off-site meals, attractions, and souvenirs.

Q: If we win, can our parents and families go with us to Washington, DC?

A:  Yes, but they must cover their expenses and secure their lodging.

Q: How much time will a teacher have to devote to the project?

A:  Teachers spend approximately 35-45 hours on the competition.  Of course, all teams and coaches are different, but this is a reasonable range to expect. It is the teacher’s responsibility to schedule time for the students and the engineer-volunteer to work together and to oversee work done on the project.

Q: How much time will students need to spend on the project?

A:  Estimates are:

  • Design City – 18-20 hours
  • Build Model  – 20-30 hours per student team member
  • City Description – 8 hours
  • Presentation – 7 hours

Q: How much time will the engineer-mentor need to spend on the project?

A: Typically, most engineers or mentors devote approximately 12-14 hours.  The engineer mentor should be available to provide advice and technical assistance to the students. It is hoped that he or she will be available whenever the students work on the project.

Q: Must all students on a team be from the same school or organization?

A: Yes

Q: Can more than one team per school or organization compete at the regional competition?

A: Yes, the Iowa Region permits up to 4 teams from a single school or organization to attend the regional competition.


Q: How many students can be on a team?

A:  Teams come in all sizes—a whole class, a group of 10 students, or 3 students. As you near competition time, you’ll need to identify the three students who will officially present the team’s work at the Regional Competition.

Q: If my team has more than three students, can they all attend the Regional Competition?

A:  Absolutely!  We strongly encourage all students to attend.  However, only the three presenters are eligible for Special Awards, shirts and advancing to Nationals if selected.

Q: How many SimCity software codes will a school receive?

A: Each registered school will receive up to three codes which will allow them to download the SimCity software online.

Q: I am not familiar with SimCity. Will I receive any instructions?

A: Instructions are provided on the Future City National Website, through webinars, and also at Future City resources and the SimCity website.

Q: What grade levels are permitted to participate in Future City Competition?

A:  Sixth through eighth grades can participate.

Q: Who do I contact to find Mentors?

  • Local Companies related to the theme
  • Technical/Engineering Firms
  • City/County  Officials or Engineers
  • PTA
  • Parents
  • Sponsors
  • National Engineering and Professional organizations
  • If all else fails, contact the Regional Coordinator

Q:  What is the official name and EIN of Future Cities for donation purposes?

A: Our official name is Future City Iowa.  We are a 501(c)3 charitable organization under NewBoCo; all donations are tax deductible.  Our IRS determination letter is available upon request.   Please consider contributing!


There are 5 competition components worth a total of 258 points. Each form has it’s own point value, and deadline. Late submissions will not be judged.

SimCity/Virtual City:  48 points

Due January 6, 2018 – The SimCity map uploaded to the CMS.

City Essay:  60 points

Due date is January 6, 2018 – Uploaded to the CMS.

Physical Model:  70 points

Due date is January  20, 2018 – day of the competition.

Team Presentation:  70 points

Due date is January 20, 2018 – day of competition.

Project Plan: 10 points

Due date is January 6, 2018 – Upload to the CMS.

Competition Expense Form: 0 points

Due date is January  20, 2018 – the day of the competition.
Please bring this form with each team the day of the Regional Competition.

The penalty for not having the Competition Expense Form is a 15 point deduction.

Attach receipts to the Competition Expense Form. Failure to attach necessary receipts may result in a 5 point deduction.



All Future City Competition Forms are now available as writeable PDFs.

Note: You need Adobe Reader installed on your computer and acting as your default pdf reader. Download the free version at http://get2.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/

Design the Virtual City:

Write the City Essay:

Team Presentations:

Call for Judges

Future City starts every year with an important challenge topic—how can we make the world a better place? To answer it, 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future that showcase their solutions that address global sustainability issues. Students from across Iowa have written 1500-word essays, created virtual cities, and designed scaled 3D models of their cities. Now it’s time for them to present their city for a chance to win the Iowa Regional Competition. The winner of the Future City Iowa Regional Competition receives an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Competition.

What YOU do as a Judge

You will judge four table top models and four presentations. Detailed scoring forms will be provided. You will serve on a panel with 4 other judges.

9:00 – 9:45 Review/Orientation
9:45 – 9:10 Round 1: Model & Presentation
10:05 – 10:20 Round 2: Model & Presentation
10:25 – 10:40 Round 3: Model & Presentation
10:40 – 10:50 Break
10:55 – 11:10 Round 4: Model & Presentation
11:15 – 11:30 Round 5: Model & Presentation
11:35 – 11:50 Round 6: Model & Presentation

When and Where

Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018
8:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Prairie Point Middle School
8015 Kirkwood Blvd SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Please contact our Regional Coordinator at k12@newbo.co, if you have any questions.

Our Sponsors

Thank you to our generous Future City Sponsors!

  • Rockwell Collins
  • The Verizon Foundation
  • The Lil’ Drug Store
  • Shive Hattery
  • Duane Arnold
  • American Society of Quality
  • Cargill

Sponsorship Levels

  • Diamond Level- $1,000 and above
  • Ruby Level- $200-$999
  • Topaz Level- $1 to 199

Our awesome sponsors receive:

  • Your logo featured in our program which is distributed at the regional competition
  • Verbal thanks and recognition at the Awards Ceremony
  • Your name and logo displayed and thank you’s given on our social media sites.


We gladly accept in-kind donations!

A check can be made out to Imagination Iowa (memo: Future City Iowa) and sent to

Kaitlin Byers
c/o Future City Iowa
415 12th Ave SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401


2018 Results

Special Award Winners:

1. Most Innovative System Design – Vjecan from Decorah
2. Best Constructed Model – Synergia from Lynnville-Sully
3. Human-Centered Design – Menschenstadt from Imagination Iowa
4. Best Land Surveying Practices – Colina from Franklin
5. Most Diverse Infrastructure – La Terra del Agua from Evans
6. Best Quality and Planning – Newcrest from Vinton-Shellsburg
7. Most Innovative Moving Part – Bluhende Stadt from Marion Library
8. Best Land Management – La Unidad from Lynnville-Sully
9. Most Innovative Power Distribution and Communications System – Sofia from Decorah
10. Healthy Aging at Home – Pealim from Harding
11. Best Use of Public Transportation – Golden Ages from Waukee
12. Environmental Vision Award – Sundara Parvata Franklin
13. Best Community Design – Ville d’accessibilite from Imagination Iowa
14. Most Creative Use of Recycled Materials – City of Cassandra from Earlham
15. Best City Essay – Vjecan from Decorah
16. Best Virtual City – Ville d’accessibilite from Imagination Iowa
17. Best City Model – Ville d’accessibilite from Imagination Iowa
Top 5 finalists:
1. Sofia from Decorah
2. Ville d’accessibilite from Imagination Iowa
3. Bluehende Stadt from Marion Library
4. Maru from Franklin
5. Pealim from Harding
Marcus Thurm Perseverance Award:
Elizabeth Hofmeister
Future City Iowa Regional Winner:
 Sofia from Decorah
They will go on to represent Iowa at Future City Nationals in Washington DC February 17-21, 2018.