To celebrate Earth Day, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® has invited 2018 Collegiate Inventors Competition® Bronze medalist team OSPRI (Optimized Solar Purification with a Reusable Indicator), to share a series of experiments to teach children the importance of sustainability and water conservation.
OSPRI is an inexpensive, reusable sensor that uses solar power to filter contaminated water. The sensor changes color to notify the user when the treated water is safe to drink. OSPRI is part of the Billion Bottle Project, an initiative that addresses the lack of clean drinking water worldwide which accounts for 3.4 million deaths each year.
The members of the OSPRI team hope that their Drops of Life series of experiments will augment educators’ science curriculum by turning abstract earth science concepts into hands-on activities and demonstrations.
- Students will learn about the importance of protecting water resources and the role of sustainable, clean solutions to water access
- Students will begin to understand the complex interdependence between human society and environmental resources
- Students will recognize different types of threats to clean water around the world, including pollution, chemical hazards and waterborne illness
- Students will learn how to contribute to conservation through daily habits and choices
Experiment 1: Find the Bacteria
Materials Needed: Microscope, slides for a microscope, contaminated/uncontaminated water (pond water)
Instructions: Students pour the two water samples onto the microscope slides. Ask them to take turns looking at the slides to determine which water sample contains more bacteria.
Experiment 2: Clean the Water
Materials Needed: Empty water bottle, rubber bands, filter nets cut to fit over the top of a water bottle, filtering elements such as sand and gravel, water mixed with soil (to create contaminated water)
Instructions: Students take an empty water bottle and attach a filter net over the opening using a rubber band. Mix the sand, gravel and soil with the water to create the contaminated water. Instruct students to pour the contaminated water into the top of the water bottle to test the effectiveness of the filtration system.
Experiment 3: Cooking with Sunlight
Materials Needed: Hot sunny day (at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit), tin foil, egg
Instructions: Crack an egg onto the tin foil or onto the concrete itself. Students can watch the egg cook or check back in 10 to 15 minutes to see the progress of their fried egg.
Experiment 4: Salty to Fresh
Materials Needed: Water, salt, large bowl, short glass or beaker, plastic wrap, masking tape, rock (or other small weight)
Instructions: Students construct a solar water purifier to collect drinking water. Pour salt water into a large bowl and place a short glass in the middle. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place a small rock on top of the plastic directly over the glass to help collect the distilled water in the glass. Leave the bowl outside in the sun for several hours. Have students taste the water to see if it is salty or fresh.
Experiment 5: How Can We Save Water?
Materials Needed: 4x4 bingo cards, bingo chips
Instructions: Students will assemble a bingo card with different water conservation techniques in each square (e.g. turn the water off after wetting your toothbrush, take shorter showers, opt for a dishwasher over washing dishes by hand). The coordinator of the game will announce from a list of water conservation techniques in a game of bingo.