Monday, October 15, 2018

Physical Science Students Design Water Filters

Check out Mrs. Gregory's classroom blog. Mrs. Gregory is in her first year teaching Physical Science and Chemistry at Chadron High School.

Clean Water

Yes, I know it’s been a while. Trying to balance blogging about my class with planning for my class and grading for my class and cleaning up after my class is…. formidable! However, my physical science kiddos just completed a super neat project and I would feel like I’m short handing parents if I don’t tell you about it.
Physical science just completed a unit about types of substances, matter, and materials. I wanted to break of the monotony of typical, 40-point unit tests so I threw in alternative assessment. The focus of this assessment has been water: what materials pollute water and what materials can clean water. The kids kicked off the assessment with 30 (that’s right, 30!) whole minutes of writing about global water crises. The students researched what materials pollute water, what countries face the most debilitating water crises, and solutions to the global water crisis. I’m a huge writing nerd so reading about the kids’ research has been a joy for me.
The next part of this assessment was a Google Science Fair project called Dirty Campers. In this project, students designed a water filter that would provide water clean enough to bathe in using a variety of materials including activated charcoal, sand, filter netting, cotton balls, and kitty litter. The waste water for filtering came from the drainage ditch in front of the school. I don’t think the kids have ever really looked at the water before based on the disgusted looks on their faces. 🙂
After a test-run, students modified their design to make more effective filters. While not every student obtained crystal-clear water, all kiddos learned a little bit about the materials that can remedy water pollution. Below are some pictures from the experiment and recaps of the experiment written by students.

          From top, left to right: the materials, the wastewater, some initial designs, first round of filtered water collected, some reworked designs, second round of filtered water collected.

“In this experiment, we all made a filtration system using various materials and dirty water. What I did is gather cotton, sand, soil, pasta, and activated charcoal to proceed with constructing two different filters. The first time we got better results than the second. I can infer that charcoal does a good job of filtering water. In conclusion, I probably would never use this filter system.” -Brinnley H.
“We put in three cotton balls and 20 mL of sand, and potting soil. Ours worked the first time because the filter cleaned the water.” – Brianna L.
“We filtered 100 mL of dirty water. We could use a coffee filter, sand, soil, activated charcoal, cotton balls, and a netted filter. We used sand, soil, cotton balls, and a netted filter. Ours worked but would have worked better if we used more materials. -Dawson D.
“Throughout the world, water crises is a major problem. In physical science, we planned, designed, and tested our own water filters. We used a recycled plastic bottle, a rubber band, cotton balls, sand, activated charcoal, a net, pasta, and cat litter. Our group then poured 100 mL of dirty water into our filter. Even though we only got 50 mL of water back, our water was clean and has a pH of 7. All in all, our water filter worked well and it showed me that there are easy ways for places with no clean water to filter their water.” -Leila T.