The Dirty Water Challengeby: Kirsten Schluter, Mark Walker, and Angelika Kremer

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“The Dirty Water Challenge” is a fun activity that teaches children about their environment in an engaging and practical way. Inquiry is embedded within the practical—students have to design, plan, and then build their own design of water filter. Students are exposed to important concepts from a variety of scientific disciplines, including how the water cycle works (geology, meteorology) and the principles behind water filtering (physics, chemistry). This method has been successfully used during units on the water cycle and pollution to teach elementary and lower middle-school classes in an inquiry-based way.

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Reviews (5)
  • on Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:11 PM

This is a great activity I would love to try. It gets the students to problem solve and experiment. An easy hands on way to teach about natural water filters.

Jerica Schatz
Jerica Schatz

  • on Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:23 PM

Although written in 2007, this article provides some good ideas for adapting the concept of filtration to younger children. Along with the recent Engineering Design Challenge: Water Filtration webinar that aired on March 13, 2012, students will develop inquiry skills as they identify characteristics of water, measurement, and design methods to remove compounds from water.

Jennifer Rahn  (Delafield, WI)
Jennifer Rahn (Delafield, WI)

  • on Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:17 PM

Great idea to test problem solving and science inquiry! Yet, I would use this idea during my soil unit. Students do not realize what a filter is and the different types of filters. How does different filters and different products effect our water system/cycle? Let the student(s) create a filter is genius!

Wilma M  (Spring, TX)
Wilma M (Spring, TX)

  • on Sun Nov 13, 2016 5:30 PM

This lesson illustrates a good way to demonstrate water filtration using almost completely every-day items. The only thing is that it seems rather limited in what the students can do to experiment, but tweaking it would come in whichever classroom it's adapted to.

Adam Raabe
Adam Raabe

  • on Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:56 PM

Students in grades three through eight would enjoy this inquiry activity that has them designing, planning, building, and using their own water filters. If you have other resources that provide more direction in what materials would be suitable to provide students, rubrics for evaluating filters, etc., then this article is a good supplemental one. The authors provide many questions that teachers can ask their students as they go through the process of making and testing their water filters.

Carolyn Mohr  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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