The challenge: A rural village of about 500 families, plus livestock and domestic animals, needed help in developing a secure potable water supply for domestic use.
Thousands of miles away, six students in the introduction to engineering class at Apache Junction High School got to work. They came up with the idea of building a metal storage tank with a metal funnel attached to the top so rainwater could drip in during the wet season.
They then installed a pipeline on the bottom that moved into a filter box that filtered out the water, which then ran into a concrete cistern under the town that was accessible by concrete stairs.
The process cost $8,000.
The judges at Arizona State’s Engineering Projects in Community Service Olympiad thought so. Apache Junction’s tank and filter system was selected as one of 11 finalists in the mid-November competition, and the judges gave the students’ presentation 3.67 points out of a possible five.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the students in the introduction to engineering class didn’t actually build the tank and filter system. But their concept was remarkable, given the fact it was the first time Apache Junction had participated in the Olympiad and considering five of the six students are freshmen, the sixth a sophomore.
The freshmen are Benjamin Martinez, Kenda Grose, Micah Pape, Johnny Baca and Destiny Ruelas Estrada. Manuel Pacheco was the lone sophomore.
“They represented Apache Junction very well,” Cary McDavid, who teaches the engineering class as well as physical science at the high school, said. “For a freshman group to do what they did, I was pretty impressed.”
Although Apache Junction had never entered the event before, Mr. McDavid signed up this year because he thought the project would give the students something “more exciting” to work on.
“It’s also a great thing for me to use as a class grade,” he said.
Mr. McDavid broke the class into three separate groups, only one of which could make a presentation at the Olympiad, which normally is held at ASU but this year was done virtually because of COVID-19 concerns. Each group had to figure out how to solve the problem and then come up with an accompanying presentation.
The tank and filter system group, led by Benjamin, came up with a Google slide presentation that included slides entitled “Problem Statement, Potential Solutions, Description of Concept and Implementation and Maintenance.”
In assessing the final presentation, which was done by Benjamin, a judge wrote in part, “The project itself seems feasible and properly address the problem at hand, only with the small details not taken into consideration … I really appreciate your thought process behind the idea, and I thought the concept selection process was illustrated really clearly … Great effort!”
Editor’s note: Scott Bordow is the director of communications and community engagement for Apache Junction Unified School District.