HUNTSVILLE, Ala - The Academy For Science and Foreign Language will make their 9th appearance at the international Future City Competition in Washington D.C. next week.
Future City is an engineering-driven project that centers around city-planning and solving problems of the future.
The theme this year is Clean Water: Tap Into Tomorrow.
Students grades 6-8th from The Academy For Science and Foreign Language spent Thursday practicing their presentations in front of their peers before the team fly's to D.C. on Friday. This will be the only team to represent Alabama, which placed 2nd last year.
During the practice presentations, the team was drilled with questions.
"We have practiced a lot with questions with big words that didn't quite make sense. These little kids questions were a lot simpler," said Lily Winters, a presenter for the team.
This is not an art project by any means. The students actually try out to be on the team. Only six make the team while three take on the big stage for the presentations.
"We have such a reputation for going to Washington D.C. and being able to represent Alabama. I want us to be at least top 5. Maybe top 3," said Phillip Omondi.
Each element of the city has a story. While most of the design is constructed of recycled material. Before the students start to physically build, they test their ideas on the Sim City video game platform and write an essay.
This is an engineering competition. The judges in D.C. will be keeping an eye out for plausible ideas.
"Is this just something that is warmed over by an internet search? Or is this a real life, futuristic idea?" said Ray Woodson, a team mentor and a retired aeronautical engineer.
If you have a chance to ever watch the students present their ideas, it's clear the future is truly in their hands. It's also just a lot of fun.
"A national judge asked one girl if this had influenced her to be an engineer. She said no. I want to be a performer," Woodson said with a laugh.
Finals are slated to start on Tuesday. You can watch here. The event should start around 7:30am CT.
The winner gets to go to Space Camp (ironically in Huntsville) as well as $7,500 to go towards the schools STEM program.