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Sand Creek students engineer their way to MIT grant

Twenty-five Sand Creek High School engineering program students were awarded a $9,900 grant from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for their work on a water filtration system. They are the first team from Colorado to win the Lemolson-MIT InvenTeam grant. Fifteen grants were awarded to high schools across the country.The team developed a bio-sand water filtration system that removes impurities from drinking water quickly and inexpensively. ìThe focus of the project is to enhance the design of bio-sand filters so that we can improve the affordability of these for people in developing nations,î said Grace Jiang, Sand Creek student team member.The engineering design class has 25 juniors and seniors from the pre-engineering program at the school, said Todd Matia, class teacher. ìInstead of individual or small team projects, they decided as a full group to do this,î Matia said. ìThis grant is so prestigious that once they heard about it they wanted the chance to compete.îìI’m so proud of the students and Mr. Matia for this award,î said Tammy Harold, president of the D 49 school board. ìThey worked really hard and spent a ton of time on this. It’s a great accomplishment.îThe team spent two months researching dozens of ideas before narrowing it down to the water filter. ìThey spent their advisory periods and lunches working on it in spring semester, as well as after school and several meetings during the summer,î Matia said. Jiang said the time and effort was worth it. ìI got involved because it presented the chance to get involved, hands-on, in a project that’s big and would affect more than ourselves. It was exciting to have that opportunity in high school,î Jiang said.The students will use the grant money to improve and test the filter, Matia said. ìWe’re working with local businesses, but it’s going to cost money every time we have the water tested,î he said. The entire team, Matia and several chaperones hope to go to Cambridge, Mass., in June for the EurekaFest program. The event honors the winners of the grant from across the country and allows the teams to present their final designs.Completing the project and paying for the team to go to MIT for EurkeaFest will cost about $30,000. ìWe really want to involve all of the Colorado Springs region and all of Colorado since we’re the first-ever team to win from the state. It’s something Colorado and Colorado Springs should be really proud of,î Matia said.The team hopes the filter will be used by governments and nonprofit organizations to help provide safe drinking water to impoverished communities. ìOnce we test and finish the prototypes, we’ll be working with a nonprofit organization or the military to see who can help us distribute the plans to those communities,î Jiang said. ìThe idea is to make it easy for the communities to build it themselves.îThe team has a Facebook page so the community can follow the project. It can be found on Facebook by searching for ìRocky Waters Filtration.î

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