Teacher Area

Final Project: Designing a Water Purification and Distribution System


To bring a worldwide systems approach to the project, students in your class and your partner school will work collaboratively in this activity to design a component/system for a water purification/distribution system to be built and installed in a developing world country.


  • Experience working as an engineer through the collaborative designing of a water distribution system for a developing world country.
  • Utilize systems engineering concepts.
  • Utilize the technological design process to plan, develop, and communicate a system that is compatible with an overall functional and appropriate water purification/distribution system for a specific developing world country.
  • Recognize the complexity of participating in a world-wide systems design project and the requisite skills that are required.
  • Identify the issues related to the system they will be designing.
  • Identify methods that are used in our country to accomplish the task that their system must complete .
  • Identify the resources available to them in the country that the system will be installed.
  • Utilize related skills to calculate estimated sizes and specifications related to the system they are designing.
  • Utilize design software to draw and communicate their design ideas.
  • Record the efforts and details of their design team.
  • Utilize telecommunication software/hardware to communicate design ideas to related teams.
  • Present the work of their team in an appropriate and effective manner.
  • Reflect on their work and that of their team in an honest and forthright manner.

Materials and Resources

The following list supplies a variety of design opportunities. You are not expected to do them all, but are not limited to one. Do as many as you like. Your class could possibly split the design opportunities up and do a few at the same time. The design evaluation, portfolio and rubric are generic enough to use for all the design opportunities.


New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

  • Standard 5.1: Scientific Processes
  • Standard 5.2: Science and Society
  • Standard 5.4: Nature and Process of Technology
  • Standard 5.5: Characteristics of Life
  • Standard 5.10: Environmental Studies
  • Standard 8.2: Technological Literacy

ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy

Standards: 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15

National Science Content Standards

  • Unifying Concepts and Processes in Science
  • Science as Inquiry
  • Physical Science
  • Life Science
  • Science and Technology
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives


This lesson/activity will be used to design and test a system to remove contaminants from water for a specific situation. A management system must be developed to get the work done and design the final system. Each project team (your class and partner school) will create a final report that will be posted to Collaboration Central and that discusses the science behind the water clean up, the design of the solution, the materials available and used and the construction of the prototype. Describe the successes and/or challenges you had in producing the final water purification system. Provide suggestions for re-design.

Time Frame: 14 days

1. Organize teams: It is up to the partner schools to determine how to best structure project teams to ensure that the overall system meets the design criteria for a specific country/location. Teams can be established with members from both schools or each school can have separate teams for specific components or subsystems. Although a variety of communication tools can be employed, a record of all communication must go through Collaboration Central. Students could be teamed up into "companies" that specialize in one area or aspect of the water purification/distribution and begin designing their component(s) of the system. The system they design could be a virtual system or if time and resources permit, a working model. Teams do not have to be static but instead evolve during the aerly parts of the project at the teacher's discretion.

2. Request for Proposal (RFP): The RFP is an invitation to your team to submit a detailed plan for accomplishing a goal that the RFP outlines. Teams should review the RFP early in the project and occasionally revisit the RFP as it should be the guide for keeping the teams on task. Here is the RFP for this project (.doc).

3. Design Brief: As a team develop a design brief for the project. The design brief is a thorough outline of the problem at hand and any needs or constraints that the team thinks is important to a successful design. It should include the following: problem description, constraints, budget, time, needs, goals, and risks/benefit analysis. Other sections may be added as necessary.

4. Engineering Design Process: Students should be teamed up into "companies" that specialize in one area or aspect of the water purification/distribution and begin designing their component(s) of the system. The system they design could be a virtual system or if time and resources permit, a working model.


  • Research
  • PowerPoint presentation on components of their system
  • Design Log Rubric
  • Systems Design Rubric
  • Post Test/Self Reflection