Water Clean-up

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This is an activity (located on page 3 of the PDF under Water Clean-up Activity) about the use of reduction agents to decontaminate ground water. Learners will conduct a reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction in which vitamin C acts as a reduction agent after passing through a model of top soil, sand, and gravel to "pollutants" (starch-iodine mixture). This simulates how nanoparticles of iron are being used to detoxify water under former factory sites. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV Nano: Water Clean-up.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Model, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • iodine (from a drugstore)
  • water
  • spray starch (liquid form — not aerosol — is best)
  • rocks
  • pebbles
  • sand
  • dirt
  • clear cups
  • old soda bottles (20 ounce) with caps
  • ring stands or pieces of cardboard
  • vitamin C tablets
  • lemon juice
  • Kool-Aid (clear)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • white paper
  • drill


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Mineral and Mining Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Rate
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and the Environment
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 741749