Young students present water research at NDSU
Young, bright minds from across the globe presented innovative ideas on how to reuse water during the second International WateRediscover Conference May 15. Organized by NDSU, the teleconference involved seven teams of middle school and high school students from Bangladesh, India, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The teleconference was the culmination of an intensive six-month project, where the students designed, fabricated and tested wastewater-recycling units following an engineering design process. Each team was given a chance to show a video and make a 15-minute presentation about their research.
“The primary objective of WateRediscover is to entice our younger generation to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education,” said Achintya Bezbaruah, assistant professor of civil engineering at NDSU and WateRediscover project director. “This also gives our students in the U.S. the opportunity to interact with their peers from other countries.”
A total of 43 students participated in the conference. According to Bezbaruah, there was an emphasis this year on recruiting female participants. There were three female-only teams and 20 female participants this year.
A team of three seventh graders from the West Fargo STEM Center studied wastewater from fracking, an oil extraction process often used in western North Dakota. According to the students’ research, the fracking process uses about 4 million gallons of water for each well. The team’s goal was to find a way to recycle that water.
“The project opened a lot of opportunities for the students who participated in it, and it was really fun to be able work with people around the world and my team members to build things that can help the world,” said West Fargo student Jadyn Voeller.
The West Fargo project took fracking waste water through several steps, including a sedimentation tank to settle out sand and particles, a copper removal process, a procedure to balance pH levels, a carbon filter to remove organic contaminants and, lastly, the water was distilled to remove salt.
“We discovered we could take chemicals out of the fracking fluid. It was really cool that we could reuse it instead of wasting so many gallons of water,” said teammate Emelia Asa. “The project was a great experience, and it’s really fun to do things with people around the world as we teleconference together.”
West Fargo student Alison Ault nodded in agreement. “We learned a lot. It was serious, but it ended up being a lot of fun,” she said. “We learned stuff that most high school students would learn, and we really had fun doing it.”
The teleconference included welcomes from NDSU Dean L. Bresciani; Gary Smith, dean of engineering and architecture; Bezbaruah; West Fargo Public Schools superintendent David Flowers and Tezpur University, India, vice chancellor Mihir K. Chaudhuri.
According to Bezbaruah, the program is noncompetitive, and each participant in the WateRediscover program received a certificate from NDSU.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.