While some high school kids are playing video games or watching movies on their cell phones, eight students from Charlottesville are trying to solve a serious global problem – how to turn polluted water into something people can drink.
Last fall,students at St. Anne’s-Belfield School decided to enter the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams challenge – a contest that awards 15 grants of up to $10,000 for research on real world problems. Bob Troy chairs the high school’s science department.
The Radford Army Ammunitions Plant opened in the 1940s, making arms and propellants for the military and creating jobs in the region.
When it was built, the Arsenal as it’s known, was miles from population centers, but not anymore. New communities have sprung up in recent years. And concerns about pollution by the plant have also been growing.
Analyzing water is a complicated business. It can contain any number of pollutants and require a variety of regulations to clean it up, but the state of Virginia is using a simpler approach – letting nature determine water quality, and asking citizens to help.
On a sunny weekday afternoon, four people arrive at a one-lane bridge northeast of Charlottesville, unpacking a car loaded with mysterious gear – nets, gloves and waders, a table and chairs. They could easily be mistaken for picnickers. In fact, they’re on a more serious mission.