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Water Treatment Center Science

In this family STEM activity, kids model the process a water treatment plant uses to turn murky water into clear water.

Water Treatment Center Science / Weekly Family Science Activity

Water Treatment Science

Clear water doesn't necessarily mean safe-to-drink water, but you definitely don't want to drink water that looks dirty, murky, or otherwise has things visibly floating in it. Water that is collected in water treatment plants, however, may be exactly like that in the beginning, turbid water full of floating particles that doesn't look like something you would want to drink.

At a water treatment facility, water goes through several processes to help "clean" the water. In this week's family-friendly science activity, students model the processes of coagulation and flocculation. Together these processes help get rid of particles in the water, which also helps clear the water.

With an experimental procedure that guides kids in mixing up cups of soil-laden, particle-floating "dirty" water and then experimenting with coagulation and flocculation, students experiment to see which of the following steps helps clear the water: stirring, adding alum (often used as a coagulate), or adding alum and stirring.

With a few materials and some careful stirring, families can simulate water treatment center processing in a cup—with visible results.

The following Science Buddies activity on the Scientific American website has all the information you need to do this science activity with your students at home: Drinking Water Cleanup.

Making Connections

Students interested in science questions related to drinking water, water purification and filtration, and water desalination may also enjoy the following hands-on science project ideas:

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