WASHINGTON (April 27, 2012) – Six teams of middle school students participating in the annual School of the Future Design Competition were in Washington, D.C., this week displaying their plans to design environmentally responsive schools that enhance learning and engage the surrounding community. The competition encourages students from all over the world to work in teams to plan and design a school that will improve the learning environment and the facility’s energy efficiency, as well as be sensitive to the environment. This year’s winners were announced last night during an event held at the National Association of Realtors® building.
“Schools that foster student achievement, conserve resources and enhance the surrounding community are vital to every neighborhood nationwide,” said NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami. “Realtors® care deeply about improving communities and these creative designs produced by six outstanding student teams do just that. Along with Realtors® in every community, I am honored to recognize each team in the School of the Future Design Competition.”
Each student-led team is required to submit a project model made from recycled materials, a short video or presentation, and a 750-word narrative description outlining the planning process and the reasoning behind their design. Six finalist teams receive a trip to D.C. to present their projects to the national design jury. The School of the Future Design Competition is part of School Building Week, April 23–27. The week is sponsored by NAR and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the American Institute of Architects, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the U.S. Green Building Council and more than 20 associations and private companies.
This year the Awards of Excellence went to Teeland Middle School in Wasilla, Ala. and Imago Dei Middle School in Tucson, Ariz. The Awards of Distinction went to Highfield Humanities College in Blackpool, United Kingdom. Seneca Middle School in Macomb, Mich.; University Middle School in Waco, Texas; and Newtown Middle School in Newtown, Conn. received the Awards of Merit.
The Teeland Middle School team received $2,000 in conjunction with their Award of Excellence. The team’s school of the future is designed on a landfill and constructed of carbon nanotubes, a strong material synthesized from carbon-rich compounds such as plastic. The interior walls would be covered in solar wallpaper and made of landfill-mined materials. Each building would have vegetative roofing that helps insulate the structure and collect storm water. The school would also house students in a dormitory, offer classes to get students interested in various career paths and a gym and pool that are open to the entire community.
A second Award of Excellence and $2,000 prize was given to the team from Imago Dei Middle School. Their plan is a school designed for the children of Niger in West Africa. The plan calls for using local resources such as plastic bottles and bamboo and is mainly powered by solar components. The structure would use natural light and shade sails of woven bamboo to provide relief from the extreme heat. The students also designed a portable school made out of the same materials as those for the permanent structure. The portable school would allow children to attend classes who cannot travel to the main campus.
The only international student-led team, Highland Humanities College, was presented with the Award of Distinction and awarded $1,500. The students’ unique design consists of a building built inside a sand dune on the seafront. A side of the building is made of glass so that at high-tide the sea covers the building, allowing students to observe sea life. Students could also sleep overnight at the school in individual pods. The entire building would be powered by renewable energy, as well as wave and wind power.
Three schools received the Award of Merit and a $1,000 prize. Seneca Middle School’s design is located in a historic Ford Motor factory and focuses on community recovery, as well as engaging students’ senses with technology and hands-on activities. University Middle School maximizes solar energy through solar panels on the roof of their school, as well as rooftop gardens allowing students to harvest food. Newtown Middle School’s design consists of a central campus surrounded by a 10 acre orchard and two community gardens. School buses would also be equipped with gasoline filters that reduce emissions.
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