Educational Outreach

Sustainable Water Filters

student demonstration


Learning Outcomes 

There is no universally agreed definition on what sustainability means. There are many different views on what it is and how it can be achieved.  Environmental engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with the application of scientific and engineering principles for protection of human populations from the effects of adverse environmental factors; protection of environments, both local and global, from potentially deleterious effects of natural and human activities; and improvement of environmental quality. 

Pollution is a problem all people deal with on a daily basis. Environmental engineers design water filters. In addition to designing systems that clean water, they also design systems to clean land and air to protect the environment around us.  Water quality is an assessment of how dirty or clean water is by the characteristics such as dissolved oxygen content or pH among several other criteria. This activity will evaluate water quality based on turbidity; the cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by small particles that are generally, though not always, invisible to the naked eye. 

By the end of this lesson, students should be able to understand what an environmental engineer does, explain the process involved in water filtration, successfully build a sturdy water filter and reduce the turbidity of a given water sample


How It Works 

Students are challenged to create a water filter out of sustainable household materials.  The goal can be set based on the materials on hand and scope of the lesson.  In this lesson, students are challenged to reduce the turbidity of a polluted water sample.  Turbidity can be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively in the event you do not have any equipment to test.  The engineering design process, several types of engineering, environmental science, math and more can be integrated into this lesson.  Students achieve the goal if they are able to reduce the turbidity of the water sample within the constraints set by the teacher.


  1. Download the Sustainable Water Filter Lesson Plan
  2. Observe
  3. Plan
  4. Build
  5. Test