Jean G. Hansen currently serves as the mentor coordinator for the NJ Future City Competition. Jean has been involved with the competition for the past 11 years in various capacities. Mentors (typically with an engineering or other STEM background) volunteer directly with students and share real-life STEM experiences, offer technical guidance, and help translate academic concepts to the real world of engineering and city design. Mentors meet with their teams to get to know the students and focus them on the big picture: good urban design, an overview of the essay topic, and brainstorming possible solutions. Later, mentors may help students establish a scale for their model and work with them to polish their presentation. Many mentors successfully work remotely with the students.
Future City starts with a question—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 solution to a citywide sustainability issue. Past topics include stormwater management, urban agriculture, public spaces, and green energy. Participants complete five deliverables: a virtual city design; a 1,500-word city essay; a scale model built from recycled materials; a project plan, and a presentation to judges at regional competitions. After completing Future City, student participants are not only prepared to be citizens of today’s complex and technical world, but also poised to become the drivers of tomorrow.
To learn more about NJ Future City, please visit: https://futurecity.org/new-jersey