EXCEL Takes First in Future City


A team of middle school students from the district’s EXCEL program for the academically gifted successfully competed at the Future City Competition in New York City on Jan. 30, winning first place and Best Essay.

The Islip team – consisting of Molly Breakstone, Victoria Pearsall and Sofia Rubinson, plus alternate Darienne Rogers – had been working to prepare for the acclaimed regional competition since last summer. The ambitious endeavor included creating a virtual city with using SimCity software, writing a 1,500-word research essay, constructing a scale-model with recycled materials and delivering a formal presentation to a panel of STEM professionals. More than 40,000 students from 1,350 nationwide middle schools participated.

Future City, a program of DiscoverE, is a national, project-based learning experience where students in grades 6-8 imagine, research, design and build cities of the future. Future City’s 2015-2016 theme of “Waste Not, Want Not” encourages students to design waste management systems for residential use and small businesses by looking at issues such as collection, separation, processing, recycling, health and safety, energy efficiency, environmental impact, and cost.

In addition to being awarded trophies and medals, the Islip students won prizes that included Amazon gift cards and Microsoft Surfaces, and a trip to compete in the Future City National Finals at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. from Feb. 12-17. The top prize at the finals is $7,500 for the school’s STEM program plus a trip for the official team members to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. The first and second runner-up teams are respectively awarded $5,000 and $2,000 for their STEM programs, with fourth- and fifth-place teams earning Honorable Mention and $750 for their STEM programs.