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My Confidence in Future Young Scientists

2013 December 13

By Thabit Pulak

EPA guest blogger Thabit and friends

The students were taking part in “enrichment clusters,” sessions in which they learn about one important public issue in depth. I was invited by 2nd-grade teacher Ms. Claborn to visit her cluster on water purification and to present a real-life example of a water filter.

I had recently worked to develop an affordable filter that removed not only bacteria and contaminants from water, but also arsenic, a poisonous substance that affects nearly 150 million people across the world today. I had the opportunity to present my water filter at the 2012 Intel International Science Fair, where I won 3rd place and EPA’s Patrick J. Hurd Sustainability Award. The Hurd Award included an invitation to present my project at the annual National Sustainable Design Expo, which showcases EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program.

STEM in the classroomI presented the filter to the class and answered questions, learning just as much from them as they did from me.  I was invited to stay for the remainder of the cluster, where the students were putting final touches on their own water filters. Ms. Claborn gave each of the students some muddy water to run through the filters. It was exciting for me to see the children’s smiles as they looked at the clean water slowly trickling out of the open edge of the soda bottle after traveling through the sand and rocks. The filters were based on a water filtration activity that EPA designed specifically for students.

Afterwards, I was invited to attend the upcoming STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) exhibit that the school was hosting. The students’ mini filters would be on display, and I was invited to display my filter alongside theirs. As the stream of curious parents and students came in, I gladly talked about both what the students did and my own filter, and what this means for the future of environmental sustainability issues like water.

This was my first opportunity to present my work outside of my school and science fairs. I felt very honored and happy to be able to give something back to the community. I hope to find ways to keep doing so!


About the Author: Guest blogger Thabit Pulak of Richardson, Texas was the winner of the Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2012. As part of this award, he was invited to attend and exhibit at the National Sustainable Design Expo, home of the P3: People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability in Washington, DC. He was also the recipient of the 2013 Davidson Fellows Award

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Elise Blount-Johnston permalink
    December 13, 2013

    Congratulations, Mr. Pulak on a job very well done. The need for potable water increases daily with all the thoughtless contamination of our water supply. Your filter may provide a solution that will spur others to develop filters. Thank you for your efforts.

  2. Farrukh permalink
    December 15, 2013

    I am very happy to see that youth’s are encouraging youth’s for moving forward STEM activities. EPA deserves apprecaition as they are providing infrastructure to do that. This could be used as a model for other schools to follow too.

  3. melissaEPA permalink*
    December 16, 2013

    As one of the EPA judges from the 2012 Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF), it’s wonderful to see Thabit sharing his interest in solving environmental challenges through science with students even younger than he!

    We’re very proud of all our Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award winners. Check out this link to learn more about each of our past winners and how they’re using science and engineering to make the world a better place:

    Looking forward to meeting the ISEF finalists in 2014 and continuing a legacy of inspiring and inspired young innovators!

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