Leave it to a few local teenagers to build a city that promotes sustainable waste management.

Three students from Wildwood School are soon heading to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Future City competition, a trip they earned by earning first place at the recent Southern California regional event in Encinitas.

Future City is a cross-curricular program organized by DiscoverE, formerly the National Engineers Week Foundation, which supports engineering education. More than 40,000 students from 1,350 middle schools participate in the program, according to its website, researching and developing ways for cities to be more sustainable and eco-friendly.

Kai Steines, Luke Todaro and Cameron Stephenson, the students at the West Los Angeles private school who make up Team Futureville, will vie for top honors at the national level, including the grand prize of $7,500 and a meeting with President Obama.

“By participating in the Future City competition, the students gain an understanding of how to design sustainable cities that can support our growing populations,” said Wildwood science teacher Tamara Smith, who will accompany the trio to the nation’s capital Feb. 12-17. “They have opportunities to apply math and science to real-world issues.”

Smith said the program encourages students to research and write about environmental issues while introducing them to the engineering design process and promoting collaboration. They learn about the ins and outs of cities like Los Angeles, delving into issues regarding public transportation, city planning and accessibility.

Future City builds on the 8th-grade science curriculum at Wildwood, which includes units on urbanization, population ecology and environmental health as well as biodiversity and water conservation. In the coming weeks, students will grow an urban garden, explore rooftop green spaces in Los Angeles, visit farms and learn about food sustainability, Smith said.

Previous themes for the Future City competition included stormwater management, urban agriculture and green energy.

For this year’s program, which emphasized waste management, 20 teams of Wildwood students were asked to develop virtual city designs using computer software and compose 1,500-word descriptions. Teams were chosen for the regional competition based on the quality of their work.

Students also created scale models, project plans and formal presentations. They began their Future City projects in September, spending time in and out of the classroom to fine-tune their ideas. Team Futureville was mentored by Akwe McDaniels, a Wildwood 9th-grader who was involved in the program last year.

“The strength in the winning team’s project was the teamwork involved in completing all five deliverables,” Smith said. “They listened to each other and recognized that each had strengths that they could bring to the project.”

The team’s trip to Washington will include a pizza party orientation, a set-up period, project assessment and a tour of the city. An awards ceremony will be held Feb. 16.

During the regional event at The Rhoades School, other Wildwood teams won awards for most accessible city, best land surveying and best residential area.

For more information about the program, visit www.futurecity.org.

jeff@www.smdp.com