Create Cleaner Water

identify the problem

For this challenge, you will explore ways to improve our water quality by studying factors that affect stream health.
Did you ever wonder where our drinking water comes from? Or why we should worry about stream pollution? How do we know when a stream is healthy? In this challenge, you will learn what factors that affect stream health. What could you do, invent, or innovate to help reduce water/stream pollution? Could it be a clever way to reuse plastics, a method to reduce the use of fertilizers, or something to keep polluted runoff from getting into streams?
Join us as we team up with Riverbend Environmental Ed Center and the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit as we explore stream health, drinking water, macroinvertebrates, and watersheds.

Scientists and environmental managers break pollution into two categories: point source and nonpoint source pollution. Direct contamination of waterways, such as industrial waste pouring from a factory drain into a river, is an example of point source pollution. Pollutants such as motor oil leaked on parking lots, plastic grocery bags, pesticides, fertilizers, detergents, and sediments are known as nonpoint source pollutants.
Stormwater runoff from nonpoint source pollution is one of the most significant threats to aquatic ecosystems in the United States. As water runs over and through the watershed, it picks up and carries contaminants and soil. If untreated, these pollutants wash directly into waterways carried by runoff from rain and snowmelt. These contaminants can infiltrate groundwater and concentrate in streams and rivers, ultimately being carried down the watershed and into the ocean. Nonpoint source pollution is linked to the formation of large dead zones (areas with minimal oxygen) in the ocean and also threatens coral reef ecosystems around the world.

stream health and watershed resources

01. All About Macroinvertebrates –

02. Model My Watershed –

03. PA Department of Environmental Protection – Macroinvertebrates

04. What Watershed Do You Live In? –

design a solution

01. Generate an idea. What idea/invention/initiative would help prevent stream pollution? How would it work? What would it be made out of?
02. Design and build a prototype. Build your invention/idea/initiative! In most cases you will have to create a prototype – a smaller version of your invention that helps you test, share, explain your invention. Maybe it’s not a physical object but a website or flyer? Remember – It’s ok if it is not a working prototype.
03. Share your idea. Film a short (Max 2 min video) pitch of your invention. Include details like who is it for, what problem does it solve, etc. Have fun! Upload/share your video to twitter, facebook or Instagram. Don't forget to tag us!