Clean Water: Is It Drinkable?

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In this activity, learners simulate nature's water filtration system by devising a system that will filter out both visible and invisible pollutants from water. Each group is asked to design a water filtration system given only a limited number of materials. They are asked to both sketch and write down step by step procedures before filtering a sample of the "dirty" water. Learners make modifications and share their findings about what worked or didn't work. This activity is the second of a set of activities on the page and can be used independently or in conjunction with the first activity called "Who Dirtied the Water?" in which learners simulate the sources of water pollution.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • beakers
  • rubber bands
  • nylon mesh
  • sand
  • charcoal
  • cotton balls
  • water
  • graduated cylinders
  • test tubes
  • ring stands
  • filter paper
  • dirty water


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
    • Earth's History
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and the Environment
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Hood, Carmen