Bexley Middle School students have a chance to win the national Future City competition for the second year in a row.

Bexley Middle School students have a chance to win the national Future City competition for the second year in a row.

Bexley's team earned a spot in the Future City finals by winning an Ohio regional competition earlier this month. On Jan. 16, 19 teams of seventh- and eighth-graders from around Ohio presented the cities that they created and built using computer software.

Bexley's team consists of Regan Detwiler, Simon Horn, Ian Kellogg, Sarah McBride, Liz Heym, Sheva Hay, Ariel Cohen, Daniel Bond, Alex Meyer and Peter Heft.

Their city is Jadid-Amaia, which means "new hope" in Arabic, Cohen said. Situated in the Sudan, Jadid-Amaia is designed to address housing needs following a crisis.

"We built a center where refugees could go and feel welcome," Cohen said.

The students also had to write a 500-700 word essay on the topic of designing green housing alternatives for people who have lost their homes because of natural disasters or economic reasons.

By winning the regional competition, the Bexley team received an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the national finals held Feb. 13-16 during National Engineers Week.

"We worked really hard," Heym said. "We were happy and surprised we got first (place)."

McBride said the team hoped to do well, especially given how much work the students put into the project. They were concerned other teams would step up after Bexley's performance last year, when the team won first place in the national competition and earned an all-expenses paid trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.

One of the most challenging parts of the project, the students said, was incorporating all of their ideas in creating the future city. Students eventually learned to share their ideas, Heft said, adding, "At first there was a lot of yelling involved."

Kellogg said making the initial presentation was a challenge because he was nervous, but it got easier after that. Detwiler agreed and said the students had to make their presentation numerous times to qualify for special awards, including best use of recycled materials and best essay.

Heym said students were asked to create two types of housing for displaced people. The first type could attach to an existing structure, and the second was a self-sustaining portable unit that provides its own water and solar power.

By participating in the project, Horn said the students learned about innovative technology and different ways to make a city environmentally friendly.

Bexley Middle School teacher and Future City adviser Linda Kelley said she knew the students met the requirements of the project, but she wasn't sure how they would perform in the regional competition.

"You never know how everyone else is going to do," she said.

It was nice to see the students rewarded for their efforts, she said. Participants dedicated 40 hours to the project the week before the competition.

While most Future City teams have five or six students, Bexley's team had 10, which made collaboration more difficult, Kelley said.

In her ninth year participating in the competition, Kelley said one of the most rewarding aspects always is the friendships that the students build.

"They have gone through a really tough passage together," she said. "They learned a lot about each other. It is a huge bonding experience."