Engineering program showcases the science behind purification techniques

By Mikayla Desmarattes, SEAS Correspondent

High school students from the Boston area and around the world learned about different technologies used in water filters during the annual Pre-Collegiate Program held at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). The two-week program was led by the SEAS Active Learning Labs.

During a hands-on session directed by Biological/Environmental Lab Engineer Melissa Hancock on July 19, students had a chance to create and test their own water filters.

The lab session also included a discussion of different compounds, those that are both helpful and harmful to the body, which are used to clean and filter water.

Then students began building water filters using carbon, gravel, coarse sand, fine sand, and ring stands. They combined the materials to devise a filtration system they thought would be most effective at cleaning a mystery water sample. Students tested the sample to determine which contaminants it contained.

As the students prototyped their water filters, high school junior Madison Sklaver said designing and building the device gave her valuable engineering experience.

With the prototypes complete, the students tested their filters to determine how they could make improvements, and then tweaked their devices to enhance effectiveness and efficiency.

High school junior Falon Fletcher said she was glad to have had the opportunity to participate in the project, which helped fuel her desire to pursue biomedical engineering and chemical science in college.

Photos by Phoebe Grinnell, SEAS Office of Communications

Topics: Environment, Events