Three eighth-graders and a math teacher from a Chatsworth middle school teamed up with a Rocketdyne scientist to create a city of the future for a national engineering contest.
But instead of envisioning a Blade Runner-like cyberscape, the team from Lawrence Middle School developed a small, modest city called Trrriplexity, a metropolis built around the three environmental R's: reduce, revise and recycle.
"The kids get a real concept of what it means to deal with city planning," said Assistant Principal Brenda Winter.
The Lawrence team is made up of students Stephanie Able, Asmina Ladha and Garrett Weinstein, math teacher Margaret Kagle and Robert Cravotta, an engineer at Rocketdyne. The company "adopted" Lawrence Middle School 10 years ago.
The team's project won the regional round last month of the Future City competition, sponsored by the Fluor-Daniel company. The Lawrence team will be heading to Washington, D.C., where they will compete against six other regions nationwide. A team from Yorba Linda in Orange County won the national title last year.
Participants in Future Cities are asked to plan a city from scratch using a computer program called "SimCity," through which the students must establish every civic component--from setting up water and electricity to balancing the budget.
"The computer scores them on the basis of how happy or unhappy the citizens of that city are," Kagle said.
The team also wrote an essay, built a model and developed an oral presentation about the city.
"Our city is built around waste management," Kagle said. She described Trrriplexity as a triangular-shaped city with a population of 150,000 to 200,000 in a Southern California-like climate.
Although Trrriplexity is a 21st-Century city, its roots trace back to the late 19th Century, Kagle said.
"Change happens a lot slower and over a longer period of time than people think," she said.