Monthly Archives: April 2017

“Are great cities planned or do they emerge?”


Middle School Eagles hosted the Electricity Quest Exhibition Friday, exploring the question: “Are great cities planned or do they emerge?”




During Session Five Eagles explored over fifty theoretical, simulated and hands-on electricity challenges to earn the right to add buildings to their neighborhoods, and light them with a functioning electrical grid.



Along the way, middle schoolers dug deeply into voltage, current, resistance, Ohm’s law and designing circuits in series and parallel; the struggle between urban freedom fighter Jane Jacobs and uber city planner Robert Moses and and the tussles of inventors  Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.


Plus, Eagles experimented with different forms of electrical generation – coal, gas, wind, solar and nuclear – and the costs and risks of each.


The Best 21st Century City would have the highest population, most amenities and lowest cost of electricity, leading to the highest per capita income and lowest cost of living per capita, thus the most prosperous city.  Of course, there were awards for the most beautiful and creative cities too, as well as the city with the most monuments to Electricity Heroes.


Sound difficult?  It gets worse.  Each building had different lighting requirements, therefore different voltage and current needs – and each wasted Watt meant a higher cost of living.


Since per capita income increased with population  – a real world truism – winning required combining your neighborhood with others, who often had a different voltage.  Not surprisingly, Eagles could be found wiring, testing and re-wiring as late as 9 pm some nights.


During the exhibition Eagles had a chance to present their “I have a dream for my city” persuasive speeches and field Electricity Bee questions to demonstrate their grasp of electrical theory.


Finally, the grand finale.  Once each city had been electrified for its required hour, a series of dice rolls determined  if anything unexpected would happen to power generation costs.  After all, sometimes the wind doesn’t blow; coal prices soar or solar power subsidies disappear.   Then one last test – would the city economics survive a rolling blackout or brownout?


It was a far from pristine exhibition, with much energy expended on last minute additions to the cities.  Nevertheless, the cities themselves spoke to how much had been learned. As one adult Electrical Engineer said: “They learned more in this quest about electricity than I did in college.”

Theory. Simulation.  Hands on contests.

Artistic freedom. Competition. Real world economics and uncertainly.

Whether the result of careful planning or emergent growth, or both – quite something to behold from the city builders of tomorrow.


Ready for the job interview of your life?


“Ready for the job interview of your life?”  That’s the question Launchpadders faced during the Free Agent Quest Exhibition on Friday, fully knowing in the 21st Century there’s no such thing as a secure career path.

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Each Launchpadder interviewed with a successful entrepreneur, asking: “Will you give me a chance to prove myself?” in an industry and function he or she had chosen as a “next great adventure.”


All of this a culmination of six weeks of exploring gifts and passions, asking:

  • “Why am I here?”
  • “What’s my next big step?” and
  • “What will it take to get there?”


What mattered most?  Commitment.  Putting a stake in the ground for a passion and deliberate practice that will pay the bills and lead to a calling.


Launchpadders also pitched Hero’s Progress allegories, up to 20,000 word Pilgrim Progress-like tales of heroes who embark on a great adventure, only to encounter Victim, Distraction and Resistance, villains determined to thwart the quest and throw the hero into a fiery hell of eternal mediocrity.

Direction; passion; valuable individual skills plus a deep understanding of yourself. Add fun with friends, and that’s what Launchpad’s all about.