Innovation Challenge

Community of the Future

Create a community of the future model and troubleshoot real world problems facing your community and the planet! We would like you to find innovative ways to create solutions for our communities of the future. 

Design and create a community of the future, or solve a real world problem facing our Atlantic Canadian Communities, by using your innovation and creativity!  We ask that you consider your community, its place in the world, and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals while problem solving.

Click to download lesson plans to help plan your class “Community of the Future” project.

Our innovation challenge has been designed to encourage  students to consider  social, economic, ecological and environmental  issues in our communities and how these issues influence Atlantic Canadians.  It is important for our students to understand the ethical  and physical risk factors to our communities if we do not take action and embrace the UN SDGs. For instance, by  understanding the key factors that influence Goal 13, Climate Change, students can begin to find innovative solutions to help reduce the effects of climate change in their local community. Students could create new products or develop  new technologies that in addition to mitigating the effects of climate change can  foster innovative economic opportunities. 

While students learn about climate science, The Community of the Future Challenge will also help them reflect on the role of sustainability and equity in their community.


This year, we have taken a different approach to our Innovation challenge. While we are still encouraging teachers and classes to create their own Community of the Future as an open-ended project, we have created a series of exemplar lesson plans to guide teachers through one of many COF endeavors. While these lesson plans are there to guide you one specific SDG, we encourage you and your students to co-construct lessons that meet the unique needs of your class and your community.

  • What problems do we see in existing communities?

  • How do we create sustainable and livable communities?

  • How will we address sustainable growth?

  • How will aging demographics affect your community of the future?

  • How can we reduce energy consumption, landfill waste, and carbon emissions?

  • Can we create a climate positive neighbourhood?

  • How will technology be used to help improve certain processes and services?

  • How do we retain our cultural identify as Atlantic Canadians and create places to live for people of all ages, abilities and incomes?

  • Can we create more efficient ways of creating renewable energy so electric vehicles don’t cause disruptions in our power grids?

Public infrastructure are facilities, systems, and structures that are owned by the people (citizens) of a community.  It includes things like:

Pedestrian access, roads, water supply, electricity, and telecommunications. 


Community Services are programs citizens receive to help keep them safe and healthy.   

Services may include: Health Care, Mental Wellnes, Education, Cybersecurity, Law Enforcement

Can you think of others? 

Transportation is the movement of products and people from one place to another using a community’s transit system or personal vehicle.  For example:

Bicycles, trains, buses, cars, trucks, planes, boats
In your future community what forms of transportation will you have? Autonomous Vehicles, Hyperloop, Delivery Robots, Drones, Electric Vehicles


An economy is a system for how money or it can also be the method a community uses to distribute resources. 

Examples include: Commerce, Sustainable Services, Currency, Manufacturing & Industry

What will your community’s economy look like?  Will you have paper money, coins, barter, or cyber currency?

Policy is a set of rules created to help a community run smoothly.  Policies support:

Inclusion, Consumerism, Waste Collection, Food Sources

What are other rules or policies that should be written in your community? 


When your not working or in school you are enjoying Leisure time! A community needs spaces and facilities to help its citizens enjoy their free time.  Examples include: 

Green Space & Density, Sports & Health, Entertainment, Electronics Use.

Can you think of others and what leisure facilities of the future will look like? 

The ecology of a community is to understand and learn how citizens can live in harmony with the natural world. How will you design your community to grow with nature?

Consider: Outdoor Schools, Potable Water, Garbage & Recycling, Oceans & Rivers, Wildlife, Forests

Energy is defined as the power needed to make something work.  Communities need energy to power lights, pump water or heat homes.

Consider:  Clean & Renewable Energy, Reliance On Fossil Fuels, Electrical Grid

What energy will your community have?


There is an urgency to help combat climate change and its impacts in our local and global communities. This issue is at the centre of political decisions and global discussions. The same issue is being discussed in kindergarten classes and around dining room tables in big cities or rural communities, it does not discriminate. We are very excited to provide this challenge to our students and see how they can rise to the challenge. Through this project students will learn concepts and develop strategies that have a positive impact that may stretch well beyond any community’s border. 

Before your students start building they need to consider the problems of existing communities and how their future community will work to fix those problems.  After they have considered the key components of their community ask them to start designing and planning.    Ask students to consider other concepts like culture and heritage. This challenge will encourage you to think of the entirety of your community while incorporating a core group of its buildings, roads, utilities, parks, people and practices into a model. This model will serve to inspire others who are also passionate about solving our current struggles with sustainability and climate change. 

Find more great conversation starters

“Traditionally, students involved in the Brilliant Labs’ Community of the Future challenge construct physical models of whole communities or a working prototype of a solution for community-based problems. This is amazing. However, while you are thinking about physical aspects of this challenge like:

  •  “Should I build a model of a hospital out of cardboard or recycled milk cartons” 
  • “How can I create an automated emergency services system?”

Are physical materials the right choice? Perhaps your model or solution would be better constructed using a variety of virtual and physical materials. Consider the use of 3D modelling software like TinkerCAD, Blender or Unity, for a complete replacement of your idea or as a way to extend your physical model. 

Community models are usually made in small scale. A common scale used in architecture of models design 1:1000 for the whole project. Before your students start building, it is important to decide the scale you will be using. The following questions will help guide that decision.

  •  How much detail do you want to show? 
  •  Where will you be putting the project?
  • Do you need to transport it somewhere? 
  • What is your budget for materials?


Here are tips and tricks from architects for building models.  

1- You can always make certain parts of you community less attractive  or less detailed and highlight your innovations using colors or lights

2- Highlight the facades of your buildings or constructions. 

3- Showcase the important structural parts of your buildings. 

4- The more land you want to showcase in your model, the less details are needed and the smaller the scale- this will also make it easier to build. 

5- Decide ahead of time if you want us to see inside certain models, this will help you make that accessible.

This is where your students might need more guidance. They might want to build a school? or a hospital? How many beds? How many classes? What is the population ? As excited as they are to make, please consider the size of what you are building. See lesson 4 for more information and a fun learning hands-on activity. 

Natural Empathy
Machine Learning
Social Entrepreneurship
Create A VR Environment
Les écosytèmes
Water Filtration
Scratch Coding
Grow your own food!
Harvest Rainwater
Build A Composter 
Test/Learn About Sustainable Soil

Figure out a way for electric vehicles to create their own energy while moving to lessen the energy needs of your community.  

Could Kinetic, solar, magnetic, or even wind energy be harnessed to help vehicles on the move make their own energy?

Design a campaign to raise awareness about climate change in your school or community and get local business or industry involved.

Call to action video to share with your community
Create to inspire change in the world
Make your own UNsdg treasure hunt for others to learn

Create an app that will help monitor energy consumption in your community and see how they can help to reduce waste.

Scratch ecological footprint
Make a coded garden 
Create AI to learn more about ocean sustainability 
Use machine learning to code an app using text-based coding

Iterate on some current clean energy solutions to help your community. 

Harness the wind to create energy

Promote gender equality or mental health in innovative ways.

Gender equality through an historical art makeover

Get involved in finding a solution to clean micro plastics from our oceans and our fishing communities.

Learn how to clean oil spills in the ocean 

Design realistic ways that technology will influence our day to day lives.

Designing a learning environment in Virtual Reality (VR)
Think like a computer

We’ve combined lesson plans, probing questions, ideas, teachable moments and design thinking materials for you.  Download this zip file and have fun inspiring your students. 

Questions? Let’s Connect!

We know you and your students will have questions about this Innovation Challenge.  Brilliant Labs is here to help.  This year we are creating lesson plans and guides to help you inspire students.  Natacha Vautour is leading this challenge and can answer your questions.  Email or follow her on Twitter.

This creative making exercise is better for the environment and helps pollinators.  This paper can be created easily and inspires students to be creative, while feeling empowered to know they are helping to limit paper waste.

Think of everything you don’t use anymore.  Consider ways those old items can made new again.

We would love to gather projects from around our 4 Atlantic Provinces to showcase in our virtual Student MakerFaire. This virtual event will be held before the end of the school year.  Here are fun ways that your class can participate :

  1. Make a timelapse video of your build.
  2. Share pictures on social media and tag us in them. Quick links below.
  3. Keep track of your progress and share those images with us.
  4. Create a photo album.
  5. Plan a virtual visit of your community with us while your students are there.


Let’s work together to empower educators, youth and communities find innovate solutions, while inspiring an entrepreneurial spirit.