The model city: Edistyminen

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East Middle School team takes its clean, green, efficient future city to nationals

By Scotty McDaniel

Hidden deep in the Andes Mountains, situated in a crater beneath man-made Lake Ingenuity, and alive inside the minds of three East Middle School students, lies a futuristic oasis.


The imagined city of Edistyminen was designed for the early 2100s to shelter people from the ravages of a 22nd-century war that was set in motion by a cessation in oil production.

Some of the world's brightest minds created a city that could stay hidden from the violence around it while sustaining itself with clean water, wind and waste energy.

Fifteen years after the signing of the Intelligence Treaty of 2137, this 76,000-person community came out of hiding, and its brilliance was revealed to the rest of the world.

Back in reality -- Edistyminen was created by  eighth-graders Zach Brown, Logan Johnson and Sam Saarinen, under the guidance of volunteer engineer/ mentor Tony Harover and volunteer coach Beth Dunn. 

Competing last month against 32 other middle schools statewide, the East Middle School team’s design for Edistyminen won the 2009 Kentucky Future City Competition.

On Thursday, the group will depart on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C., to present their city in the National Engineers Week Future City Competition Finals.

They’ve grown a lot together as a team and become confident in their own abilities as well as with each other,” coach Beth Dunn said. “They made a good working team – and a team I’m proud to take to nationals.”

We give you… Edistyminen

The students' city of the future, whose name is derived from the Finnish word for "the one who progresses," has many of the common facilities one would expect in any city. There’s a museum, government buildings, office and manufacturing buildings, a recycling center, parks, a fine arts center, and a library.

But as the team presents their city to judges, they reveal a city thriving is a network of unparalleled efficiency.

“Basically what we’re doing is looking at technologies that might be viable 150 years into the future, and then try to create a future city that uses all of these technologies,” Sam Saarinen said. “So we were thinking and doing research a long time before we started.”

Starting in August, the students began research about creating a city with efficient water use, system sustainability, and self-sufficiency.

And that’s what they came up with. In Edistyminen, the lake above the crater camouflages the city to keep it safely hidden in times of war. The lake’s depths are coated with titania, which is anti-microbial and super-hydrophilic when exposed to ultraviolet light.

From the lake, a waterfall falls, creating hydro-energy. Some of the water passes through a nano-filter-class hydro, which allows only water molecules through.

The water is separated by electrolysis, and the hydrogen is cooled and distributed to citizens’ apartments. Once there, it recombines with oxygen via a fuel cell to create energy and become clean water.

Even water that becomes wastewater doesn’t actually go to waste. Wastewater flows to underground slaloms, which slow currents so the waste can sink to the bottom and be used as a fertilizer. The water is distilled and then goes through electrolysis to become reusable.

The agriculture is also economical.

“It uses a hydroponics system, which is soil-less farming. We grow our plants in water, which are fertilized by fish, which are in a hatchery beneath the plants. It’s a lot more efficient and provides more food than conventional farming,” Logan Johnson said.

Despite the lack of farmland, meat-lovers needn’t worry -- the city’s meat is grown in labs.

The model

Nothing goes to waste in Edistyminen, and the tabletop model of the city is equally efficient.

“The judges come around and ask us about the model, and we get graded on recycled materials,” Zach Brown said. “And most of our stuff is recycled, because we get $100 to build the city altogether, and most of that went toward the crater, the Plexiglas, the spray paint and the hot glue. Our library is made out of old computer parts.”

National competition

At national finals, the team’s hard work will be scored on the multiple projects they were required to complete:

- Students created a computer design of the city using SimCity 4 Deluxe software. After months of learning the software and practicing, it took these EMS students worked 2 to 3 hours each day for a week to complete their city.

- Students built a tabletop model of their city. The model is composed of primarily recycled materials and took a few hours of work each day for 2 to 3 weeks to complete.

- Students wrote a research essay linking the city to a topic. This year’s topic is “Creating a self sufficient system within the home which conserves, recycles and reuses all existing water sources.”

- Students wrote an abstract to sum up their future city’s key features and design.

- Students give a 5-to-7-minute presentation discussing their city and its amenities.

The team that wins the national competition will receive a prize even someone from the ultramodern refuge known as Edistyminen would find pretty cool: a

A trip to Huntsville, Ala. for Space Camp.