For OPA students, the future is now

Children are the future.

So the saying goes, but middle school students at Olympic Peninsula Academy have fully embraced the future.

Students in Timothy Wilkinson's class have built a conceptual city, Grand Manan, around their ideas of the future.

Wilkinson's class participates annually in the Future City competition where schools across the country are given a challenge for their fictional city to overcome. Water conservation was the topic this year.

Selected teams of three compete regionally with the top state winner going to the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Last year, the students placed third.

This year the class didn't place but they are proud of their accomplishments.

"We'll know later why we placed where we did. The presentations went well and the model looked just as good as most of the others," Wilkinson said.

The 14 students in the class made a 3-D model with a working pump that recycled water from the city's lagoon back up the mountain. The pump met their requirement for the model to have one moving part.

Mark Jones, an engineer with Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, came in one day and gave constructive criticism on the students' ideas for Grand Manan.

An idea Jones shot down was producing cheap electricity with ice cream.

"One kid wanted to have ice cream socials on both sides of the city so that it generates energy when people go from side to side," Colton Wickersham, a seventh-grader, said.

A few ideas that did make it into the diorama were a tide energy producer, microwave power and a kite turbine, which is a massive kite in the sky.

Students wanted to incorporate a train running on magnets, but time was against them.

Most of the items on the model were made from common items including Monopoly pieces.

The competition took place on Jan. 24 in Seattle. This was the third year Wilkinson's class participated.

A few days before the competition, Wilkinson spoke to his students about their hard work on the project.

"I don't care how we place ... think of all the great things you've learned about alternative energy and water conservation," Wilkinson said.

Matthew Nash can be reached at mnash@sequim

_ Students made a 3-D digital model of Grand Manan using Sim City, a computer video game.

_ Students had to prepare a seven-minute presentation for two different sets of judges.

_ Their model could be no larger than 25 inches wide by 50 inches long by 20 inches high.

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