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Future City Team from Detroit Merit Academy Wins 2 Awards

While some scholars enjoy joining sports teams or chess clubs, others prefer activities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). One group of students at Detroit Merit Academy is part of a team that’s focused on what lies ahead, called the Future City Team.

The eight members of the Detroit Merit Academy team recently took part in the Future City competition. The event happens once a year and is a platform where students from across the state share their vision for what cities could look like one hundred years from now, emphasizing sustainability and innovative design.

The students’ challenge was to design a 100% electrically powered city with energy generated from sources that keep citizens and the environment healthy and safe. One of the team mentors, Johnathon Young, said the scholars embraced this challenge, creating a model of Detroit that would be powered solely by non-fossil fuel sources. They also explored concepts of waste management, water conservation, and creative reuse.

Future City's design

“One of the students had created this waterway system where it went around the city and was recycling rainwater. It then ran through a plant facility. That was pretty cool,” shared Young.

The students presented their model and vision before a panel of judges comprised of everyone from industry professionals to educators and engineers. Despite technical challenges, the team persevered, impressing the judges with their creativity and forward-thinking solutions.

With competitors from as far away as the Upper Peninsula, the Detroit Merit team stood out, bringing home two awards: the Best Waste Management and Recycling Award and the Most Innovative Design for Water Conservation and Reuse. Young was overjoyed at the students’ accomplishments.

2 awards Future City team won

"I was really proud of them," he said.

The event not only showcased the students' technical abilities but also helped them gain self-confidence.

“One of our presenters struggled with public speaking, getting really anxious, so we helped him through it. I think it was really good for all of them,” noted Young.

Team member with awards and mentor

The students also overcame challenges such as inclement weather and time constraints. Their strong problem-solving skills have helped Detroit Merit Academy scholars outperform the district for 14 years.

Looking ahead, the team is excited to compete again. They’re also hoping to learn more from some of the organizations they connected with at the competition such as Lawrence Technical University and Waste Management.

Congratulations to the Future City team on your awards and Mr. Young for helping shape the leaders and innovators of tomorrow!

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About Detroit Merit Charter Academy
Detroit Merit Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Detroit, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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