Archived Story

Horizon’s Future City team builds reputation at UAH meet

Published 10:30am Saturday, January 26, 2013

Plans for a 22nd-century Tuscaloosa won attention and an award for the Future City team at Horizon Elementary School.

Horizon was the only school to represent the Madison district at the regional Future City meet at the University of Alabama in Huntsville on Jan. 19. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) sponsored the event.

“We brought home an award from the Alabama Society of Civil Engineers for ‘Best Use of Sustainable Infrastructure,’” team sponsor Beth Bero said. Bero works as enrichment specialist at Horizon.

Members of Horizon’s Future City team are Brett Holmes, Zachary Langston, Katherine Maner, A.J. Revera and Evan Willoughby. Eighteen teams from across Alabama participated in the UAH meet.

The Horizon students built “Newscaloosa,” a Tuscaloosa of the future. “The rules say the city must be 150 years in the future, so they imagined that in 150 years the polar caps will have melted and interior towns like Tuscaloosa will become more important as coastal cities flood,” Bero said.

Their central challenge was to formulate methods to handle run-off in the future. The Horizon team built a reservoir under Bryant-Denny Stadium with a fan/turbine pump to bring the water back to the surface for drinking.

For the stadium’s parking lot, the Horizon students built a permeable surface and discussed methods to channel ‘gray’ water to plants and toilets. “They created a subway system to bring in tourists to the various stadiums with a hotel and eateries,” Bero said.

Bero believes the interaction of the subway, reservoir and pump under the stadium clinched the engineering society’s decision to recognize Horizon with a plaque for the best sustainable infrastructure.

An eighth-grade team from the Academy of Science and Foreign Language won the overall competition and will represent Alabama at the national meet in Washington, D.C. in February.

The Future City national competition involves project-based learning for students in grades 6-8 to imagine, design and build cities using SimCity(tm) 4 Deluxe software. For more information, visit

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