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Lesson Title: Water Filtration System
May 11, 2012

Unit: Engineering - Design Process

Grade Levels: 7-9

Connection To Curriculum: Technology

Teacher Prep Time: 1 hour

Lesson Time Needed: 5-6 hours

Complexity Moderate

Keywords: water quality, filtration, remediation, scarcity


For the class:
Triple beam balance (2 – 3)
Conductivity tester (3)
Graduated cylinder (1 – 2)
PH strips (3 – 4 per team)
Plastic cups (6 – 8 per team)
Sharpie marker
For each conductivity tester:
Multimeter (1 digital)
9-volt battery (1)
Battery snap connector
Electrical tape, black (15 cm)
Wire stripper
For each filtration device:
Plastic water bottle
Rubber band (2)
10- by 10-cm section cheesecloth (4)
10- by 10-cm section plastic wrap (4)
10- by 10-cm section window screen
Filtered waste container
Utility knife
Masking tape
Paper clip (straightened)
For filter media (each student team):
Cotton ball (10 – 15)
Coffee filter (6)
Activated carbon (200 g)
Gravel (200 g)
Sand (200 g)
Uncooked macaroni (100 g)
For the simulated wastewater:
Vinegar (400 ml)
Food coloring (1 to 2 drops)
Sand (50 g)
Salt (1 tbsp)
Hair (handful)
Dust (handful)
Tap water (2 liters)
2-liter beaker
Stirring device
For each student team:
Poster board
Glue or tape

This lesson challenges students to create and test a water filtering system. The activities in this lesson focus on water recovery and management.

Students will:
• Design and build a water filtration device.
• Test the device, make observations, and collect data.
• Collaborate as they analyze results and attempt to identify the best filter media to use.
• Based on their analysis and on study of other filtration devices, they will make modifications to their model and repeat the process in an effort to produce the most effective filtration apparatus possible.
• Compare individual results and communicate their results to the larger community.

First page of Water Filtration System

Lesson Guide
Water Filtration System Lesson
[194KB PDF file]



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Lesson Activities and Sequence
The Water Filtration Challenge Educator Guide, contains the following activities.

  1. Introduce the challenge: Understand the design challenge and become familiar with the materials. Watch and discuss NASA's KSNN™ 21st Century Explorer 30-second newsbreak, "Where would a space explorer find water and oxygen?" at http://ksnn.larc.nasa.gov.
  2. Design and Test a Filtration Device: Design the team's device and become familiar with the conductivity tester and pH strips.
  3. Design a Class Filtration Device: Combine the best features of all of the teams devices.
  4. Construct Posters: Summarize and reflect on results.
  5. Student Presentations: Share the outcome.

Keywords: water quality, filtration, remediation, scarcity

National Standards:

National Science Education Standards, NSTA
Science as Inquiry
• Understanding of scientific concepts.
• An appreciation of "How we know" what we know in science.
• Skills necessary to become independent inquirers about the natural world.
• The dispositions to use the skills, abilities and attitudes associated with science.
Life Sciences
• Organisms and environments.
Science in Technology
• Abilities of technological design.

ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students, ISTE
Creativity and Innovation
• Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
• Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.
Research and Information Fluency
• Plan strategies to guide inquiry.
• Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
• Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
• Process data and report results.
Technology Operations and Concepts
• Understand and use technology systems.
• Select and use applications effectively and productively.


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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator