The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center opened its doors over three years ago, but this fall something unusual has happened. Swarms of students are visiting the center, thirsting to know all things water. That’s because this year, the First Lego League challenge is about Hydro Dynamics – that is, anything related to water and how we find, transport, use or dispose of it.
The First LEGO League is a wedded effort of the non-profit FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the LEGO Group. With over 32,000 teams worldwide made up of students ages 9-16, participants apply real world math and science concepts to research scientific challenges in today’s world, and are exposed to team-building, critical thinking and presentation skills along the way. Students get to build, test and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology.
Since July of this year, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has hosted over 20 groups of students through its purification center and educational tours. Both students and parents alike have really enjoyed seeing the water purification process up close.
Thank you for the informative and fun tour of your facility. . . It gave us new perspective on the importance of environmentally friendly water treatment practices.
– Father accompanying students on tour
The district’s Water Education and Volunteer Program has had the opportunity to meet with over 500 students and coaches in preparation for their competition. As part of the competition requirements, students are supposed to interview a specialist in the water industry and have an industry expert provide feedback on their proposed project.
The education team has been quite busy responding to requests from over 110 First Lego League teams in the Silicon Valley, many of them with outstanding innovative proposals. One team was focused on engineering a combination reverse osmosis home system tank and graywater system that captures water left over from the reverse osmosis process and sends it to a storage tank to be used in alternative ways around the home.
Another Lego League team tackled water quality and pollution in the Ganges River in India. The team proposed building a separate channel from the river for the community to bathe in. It would connect to a water treatment plant that would clean the river as it flows through to the ocean to improve overall water quality.
Water conservation has been a popular theme for the projects. After witnessing the state’s longest drought, many of the young engineers are passionate about finding ways to save water. One team designed a conservation app and mini-turbines to fit into plumbing fixtures, tracking water use, reporting data and suggesting ways to reduce water waste all delivered via the app.
While the water district’s education team has been booked solid, they are thrilled to be working with such creative minds. The education team will continue to provide tours after the challenge competition for those who are extremely engaged and fascinated about learning the water district’s role in water resources management.
The first round of tournaments for the Hydro Dynamics challenge took place in early November, with the final tournament in spring of 2018. The education team recently learned that the “Charlie’s Angels” team advanced to the regional round with their “Shower Buddy” app that seeks to conserve water by reducing the length of your shower. The app works with a device that attaches to the showerhead and monitors flow rate, calculating the amount of water used. You can connect with friends on the app and encourage water conservation through friendly competition to see who can take the shortest shower.
We can’t thank you enough for taking the time out and meeting the kids, they have not stopped talking about the visit and excitement of meeting you and the encouragement.
– Team coach for Charlie’s Angels
Keep these young engineers in mind and wish them luck during the next round!
To learn more about the First Lego League organization click here.