Day 03 - Smarter Water (Elementary)

Wow did today go by fast. We had a great day filled with a math lesson, two guest speakers, a design challenge, an IBM smarter planet video, and a video to show a smarter way to brainstorm.

Our math lesson involved estimation with leaky pipes. We simulated a faucet leak or leaky pipe with a gatorade jug. The water trickled out slowly and we collected data and set up a ratio/rate table to calculate how much water we lose in an hour, a day, and a month. We discovered that in the time students are in school, a small leak will push out over 50 gallons of water.

Our first guest speaker from the City of Longmont brought a model of a city filled with houses, a stream, mountain, and a farm. We discovered the different forms of pollution and how that pollutant ends up in the river. Our second guest speaker came to us from Canada. He was able to skype with us and show us a presentation about the water cycle and what he does with IBM and smarter water. He told us that some people don’t have access to clean water, pipes leak all over the world wasting millions of gallons of water and, that everything we use requires water in some way. For example, to make a piece of paper requires ten gallons of water. The water required helps the tree grow, hydrates the workers who chop down the tree and process the paper. I never would have thought of this.

After a busy morning we were able to start our design challenge which was to design a way for Mr. Lemon’s family to use less water. The students analyzed a graph showing the water use for the Lemon Household. We discovered that he uses most of the water on sprinklers for his lawn.

The students began working on their prototypes which included robots that would tunnel underground to fix leaky pipes, sprinklers that would collect rainwater and snow melt to be used to water the grass at a later time. Some also created sprinklers that had sensors within them. The sprinklers would detect how saturated the ground was and either turn the water back on or turn it off so conserve water.

Today was such a busy day that I ran out of time to blog with the students. I will do a better job of this tomorrow as we design a way to improve water quality in a local river/stream to improve the river’s ecosystem.