Future City Project South Heart sixth grader make it to nationals

Technological advancements are stumbled upon from minds that continuously think outside the box— dreamers, go getters, leaders or even the leaders of tomorrow.

South Heart teacher Jerica Smith's sixth grade class won the 2021 State competition and are now competing in the national competition. (Photo courtesy of Jerica Smith)

For the second time in as many years, South Heart has impressed the judges during the Future City state competition. Now they look to do the same at nationals.

Future City is a nationwide project-based learning competition in which middle school students design and build models of innovative future cities. This year's theme is to build a city on the moon. The students took on the task with hard work and ingenuity and created a lava tube city.

This project serves as an after-school extracurricular activity and the team of students consist of sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Jerica Smith sixth grade class took some time with The Press to show off the teams hard work with their city model.

“Last year our theme was to build a futuristic water system and this year's theme was a moon city. So they had to basically create everything because it's not just a water system that we are focusing on, it is everything. What's going to work with the gravitation on earth probably is not going to work on the moon, so they did a lot of research.”

Because of COVID-19 the competition this year has been conducted virtually. The class had to submit a city model, a video presentation, an essay and a project plan. They also had to virtually participate in a question and answer with a panel of judges.


Students took on multiple roles to get the project completed and ready for the judges.

The video presentation had to be seven minutes long and explain their moon city and all its features. Zach O'Brien and Holly Stuber were two of the presenters.

“I was nervous at first, but one of the upsides of being on videos this year instead of being in person is you get to redo it if you mess up or something,” O'Brien said.

O'Brien also worked on the city essay with his peers, Megan Robb and Shayden Moe.

“This year's theme is to build a city on the moon that you could live in a hundred years from now, so we built a moon city inside a lava tube,” Robb said. “We started in the middle of October and met twice a week to get all our research done. As it progressed we met more times a week for longer periods of time... After the model was complete we met everyday after school to get ready for our presentation and questions.”

The city was also required to have at least one moving feature. South Heart went above and beyond with three. It included an actual battery powered fan system to collect moon dust for their molten salt electrolysis to create their water, a hydroponic system to grow plants with an adequate amount of water and a third installment featuring an elevator used to gain entrance into the city.


“We would have an elevator system to enter our city. Once you drop down into the city we have a room where you would change the air so you could take off your space helmet and you would be safe,” Aspen Jarrett said. “Also with the elevator going up and down it would create friction and it would be able to run its own self without use of electricity.”

Jarrett will be part of the Q/A team for the special judging at nationals. This past Saturday students began the first part of the national competition which will conclude this Sunday. The Future City national judges will announce the winner on April 7th.

“Some of the special judges will ask about zoning, so they have to know how to zone their city. I am extremely proud of them, they did a lot of work this year... much more work than we did last year,” Smith said. “I feel that this year's group is more independent, they were really knowledgeable of the science behind it.”

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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