ARMA — As part of a school project, three Northeast Junior High students had to think of an innovative way to get fresh water to a city. 

The team of students, Dawson Troth, Braden Young and Hayden Burt, competed at the annual Future City Competition on Saturday at the University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence. This year’s theme was “Clean Water: Tap into Tomorrow.” The team was led by their teacher, Gifted Facilitator Brad Johnson. 

“They [the topics] are all real life, real issue things like stormwater management, solid waste management, another was on feeding future cities,” Johnson said, adding for an example, “Can you produce food within your own borders?” 

The Future City competition is for students in grades six, seven and eight. It consists of five parts. The first is building a cyber city in the SimCity program. The second is writing an essay describing their city and how they solved this year’s problem. Next, they had to create a scaled model showing a portion of their city. The last two parts of the competition were giving a presentation to two sets of judges along with answering questions from the special awards judges.

Troth, Young and Burt’s approach was similar to construction of the Palm Jumeirah Islands, where artificial islands were made with reinforced sand, Johnson said. The students chose to build an island in the Florida Keys and chose harvesting rainwater as part of their fresh water portion of the project. 

The top five teams become the semi-finalists who give their presentations to another set of judges and other teams. Then they are ranked from first to fifth. The top team represents Kansas in the national competition in February. Though the Northeast team did not place in the top five, they nevertheless won a specialty award. 

They were awarded the Best Infrastructure Award by the American Public Works Association: Kansas City Metro Chapter.

“Infrastructure is the underlying foundation of a city,” a release from the Northeast Junior High said. “Such examples include streets, bridges, water, sewage, communication and power lines.”  

This makes the third consecutive year that the Northeast team has won a specialty award. 

“I’ll have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised that they won another specialty award,” Johnson said, applauding the students' work.