Middle School MacGyvers

By: Christina Motilall

Trophies made of recycled materials

Trophies made of recyled materials were presented to outstanding projects.

If you stranded me in the wild with a couple pieces of post-consumer trash, I would probably burn it for warmth and then be totally out of luck from there. My survival class from high school would only get me so far and then all would be lost, though I consider myself to be relatively outdoorsy. A few pieces of ‘junk’ would not do me any good.

I guess that is why Linus Pauling Middle School students Jeremy King and Wilson Xing are so impressive, because they took pieces of household trash and made something many people around the world need: a solar water filter. Using a cardboard box, a plastic bag, paper from a recycling bin, styrofoam from a television package, paperclips, a PVC pipe, a piece of copper pipe from a previous project, and a can, these two visionaries created a pond water filtration system.

Solar-powered water filter made of recycled materials.

Solar-powered water filter made of recycled materials: outstanding!

As participants in the “Use it or Lose it!” competition, Jeremy and Wilson were challenged to ‘upcycle’ discarded items and make something practical. These two took it one step further. Not only is a solar water filter practical, it is downright necessary. Sponsored by an EPA research laboratory in Oregon, this competition inspired Jeremy and Wilson to make the water filter that won them an Outstanding Project award.

Jeremy and Wilson’s reasoning behind making the water filter for the competition is both simple and inspiring: “It is made from common trash items and can therefore be made in the developing world.”

I think the world would be a better place if we all thought a bit more like Jeremy and Wilson.

About the author: Christina Motilall is an intern for the Office of Research and Development’s Science Communications Team.