While most of his peers take the summer off, high school teacher Steven Statt has been spending his summer at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering, where he has been learning about drinking water filtration from one of the country’s leading experts, Environmental Engineering Professor Shankar Chellam.
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With funds from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's Advanced Research Program and the National Science Foundation's CAREER program, Statt spent this summer studying the basics of membrane water filtration in the hopes that he can transport some of his knowledge back to his own high school students. Statt, who teaches Chemistry and Advanced Placement Environmental Science at Elsik High School, has also prepared a video demonstration that he and Chellam hope will prompt further inquiry and classroom experiments in area schools.
According to Statt, "this summer's experience has not only increased my understanding of water processing but also of techniques used to prepare, grow, and count bacterial samples involved in this research. Besides working with Dr. Chellam's doctoral students on water filtration and membrane research, we designed a lesson that could be used by local middle schools to teach about water quality and water purification." The lesson includes students making their own filters from common household items, learning about different classes of water pollutants, and filtration methods.
Statt also performed filtration experiments to quantify microorganism removal by membranes and bacterial effects on membrane fouling. He was trained in high-speed centrifugation, streak-plating, serial dilution, enrichment, and enumeration of bacterial cultures, as well as scanning electron microscopy.
Chellam's drinking water research focuses on membrane filters, such as those currently used in some home water purification systems, and how they might someday be used on a large scale to remove microbiological and organic contaminants that affect the purity of municipal tap water.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. BES-0134301 and the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board's Advanced Research Program (003652-0218-2001). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.