Students present water purification prototype at White House

Oak Ridge students present water purification prototype at White House

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The Oak Ridge High School InvenTeam is made up of Matty Lloyd, Sam Snodgrass and Sonja Solomon. (source: Oak Ridge School System) The Oak Ridge High School InvenTeam is made up of Matty Lloyd, Sam Snodgrass and Sonja Solomon. (source: Oak Ridge School System)
The students designed and built a micro-scale, hydroelectric-powered water purification system to clean surface water. (source: Oak Ridge School System) The students designed and built a micro-scale, hydroelectric-powered water purification system to clean surface water. (source: Oak Ridge School System)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WATE) - Two inventors from Oak Ridge High School presented their prototype Monday to President Obama as part of the White House Science Fair.

The Oak Ridge High School InvenTeam made up of Matty Lloyd, Sam Snodgrass and Sonja Solomon are one of several top youth, STEM-focused groups asked to take part in the science fair. Solomon graduated from Oak Ridge and is a freshman at Georgia Tech.

The students designed and built a micro-scale, hydroelectric-powered water purification system to clean surface water.

It offers more widespread access to clean water for those in underdeveloped areas throughout the world.

Matty Lloyd explained what the invention accomplishes. "Basically it uses the flowing current of the water to spin a water wheel and that electricity is used then to turn around and purify the water itself."

"It was very exciting to meet and talk with the president. We were standing in the room and he came in and talked to each group individually. We talked to him about our project and he asked us questions and he seemed really interested," Sonja Solomon said.

Sam Snodgrass was impressed with meeting the president and said he was inspired to invent a water purification system to help people.

"I hope that everyone can have clean water and no one dies from water born illnesses in the future, even though that's kind of a wishful thought but that's what I hope," Snodgrass said.

President Obama commented on the work of the team, saying, "They constructed an entire system, self-contained with a water wheel that would purify water and could potentially be used for an entire community. This was a very practical application of the knowledge that they had gained in the classroom."

Their teacher, Peggy Bertrand, also attended Monday's presentation, watching the students via a live feed.

The project was funded through the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative, which annually grants teams up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems.

Bertrand will also be honored later this year at the White House with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. It's funded by the National Science Foundation and given annually to the best pre-college-level science and math teachers from across the country.

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