This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Three hundred and seventy-five of the best and brightest Alabama middle school students landed in the Rocket City on Saturday for the annual Future City Competition.

Isabel Waring and her team from the Academy for Science & Foreign Language know a thing or two about this competition, they’ve finished well in the Future City Competition for years. But until this school year, they haven’t been experts with solid waste as a resource.

“But the future city competition really helped me to learn more about it,” Waring said.

Now, Waring joins competitors from around the state who have used their imaginations and intelligence to come up with a waste management system to benefit future residential areas and small businesses. Ozark’s D.A. Smith Middle School student, Jakari Slater, and his team used the last semester to answer the competition’s question: “How can we make the world a better place” through the production of the students’ own innovative solution?

“Having to come up with all these buildings to be energy efficient and be able to run by themselves without the help of other cities,” Slater said.

Months of preparation led 24 teams to the annual Future City Regional Finals on Saturday at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The judges said their hard work paid off.

“They are incredibly smart,” Daniel Tait said.

The judges evaluate each team on the energy efficiency of their city.

“Where they’re getting their energy from, and how they’re using it, and they are absolutely blowing our minds away with some of the things they’re thinking of,” Tait said.

Those with a clipboard said somewhat of a lack of real world experience can be helpful in this competition.

“Because they don’t have the experience, they don’t feel limited by what the world has said they can and can’t do,” Tait said.

The judges aren’t the only ones blown away by the brains of these students, parents said this is just one step towards success in their future aspirations.

“It gives them a chance to collaborate together, to work out engineering problems together,” Parent Carol Richardson said.

There are more than 40,000 middle school students from 1,350 schools in 37 regions from across America that compete in the regional competition. The winners of Saturday’s competition will travel to Washington, D.C. for the Future City Competition National Finals on February 13-17.