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Students in Puerto Rico Apply GLOBE Protocols to Research Water Quality after Devastating Hit by Hurricane Maria

Radar depiction of Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico

Still in the depths of the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria, GLOBE students (grades 6-8) at Ramey School in Puerto Rico dove in and researched the immediately practical question of “Improving the Drinking Water after Hurricane Maria Using Natural Resources.” The students examined this question using GLOBE protocols, and submitted their research report to the 2018 GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium.

In a summary of their report, the students wrote:

“On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria, a nearly category 5 storm, devastated Puerto Rico. It affected millions of people, and left the island without potable water or electricity. As a result, people were forced to drink hazardous, unsafe water from rivers, rooftops, and faucets that led to bacteria-related diseases.

Our research questions were: (1) How can we prevent bacteria-related diseases from water contamination during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria? (2) If we filter contaminated water using a modified solar water distiller and secondary filtration system, will the output water quality be safe for consumption? This problem developed into our hypothesis: If we filter contaminated water using a modified solar water distiller and secondary filtration system, then the output water quality will be potable. Therefore, the objectives were to (1) create a prototype to filter water using natural resources along with utilizing steam collected from a solar water distiller and (2) produce potable drinking water after a natural disaster.

A prototype was created using natural resources and tested to verify that pathogens in the water were reduced after filtration. In addition, this product was compared against five filtration systems used during the relief effort. The methods used to test our prototype and compare it with others included probes, sensors, and bacteria tests. The results were listed and organized on a spreadsheet.

In conclusion, our team created an effective prototype that distilled water and filtered it through a device using local materials. We compared our device with five others (commercial). Although city water (AAA) resulted in zero contaminants, the first results from the irrigation water did have contaminants. With each trial, better results were produced. In our last trial, our prototype had zero bacterial pathogens from the irrigation water. In the future, we would like to distribute our prototype throughout the island.”

The GLOBE Program would like to acknowledge the dedicated work of these students in researching a topic with practical, and inspirational, applications.

To view their entire research report, click here.

To learn more about the GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium, click here.

type: globe-news

News origin: GLOBE Implementation Office