After months of researching, designing, and building, archdiocesan elementary students interested in the STEM profession recently showcased their hard work and solutions to real-world issues on a broad scale.

On Jan. 21, students in sixth through eighth grade from 35 public and private schools across the region – including nine parish and regional Catholic elementary schools — gathered at Delaware County Community College for the annual Future City Competition.

The hands-on STEM program tasks students with building a city of the future that adapts to the coming changes of society, resource availability, and economics.

This year, students were challenged to address climate change.

Over the course of four months, students worked alongside a teacher and an engineer mentor to create one innovative climate change adaptation and one mitigation strategy to keep residents in their futuristic city healthy and safe.

Students prepared an essay as well as a five-minute presentation to defend their model. A panel of engineers and other STEM professionals judged their work.

Out of the three dozen schools in attendance, four archdiocesan schools placed in the top six with St. Cecilia School in Fox Chase taking third place overall.

Sister Margaret Rose Adams, IHM, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said these types of projects help students “gain the confidence and needed skills” in a fun and engaging way.

“Future City provides the students of today with the critical thinking skills they will need for tomorrow,” said Sister Margaret Rose.

St. Andrew School in Newtown; St. Andrew School in Drexel Hill; and Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School in Willow Grove all received honorable mentions for their projects.

Holy Rosary Regional in Plymouth Meeting; Mother Teresa Regional Catholic School in King of Prussia; Sacred Heart School in Havertown; St. Mary Interparochial School in Philadelphia, and St. Thomas the Apostle in Philadelphia also participated in the competition with many of the schools winning special awards.

Approximately 70 parish and regional Catholic elementary schools offer science, technology, religion, engineering, arts, and math (STREAM) programs. These programs allow students to further explore their interests in STEM areas with a foundation based on the principles of the Catholic faith.

“Several of our students who have participated in the past have gone on to become engineers,” said Sister Margaret Rose. “A much-needed profession in the United States.”