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Ingenious: The World's Smallest Water Treatment Plant Comes in a Packet Video Questions (4 Favorites)

ACTIVITY in Separating Mixtures, Physical Properties, Mixtures. Last updated January 28, 2022.


Summary

In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video The World’s Smallest Water Treatment Plant Comes in a Packet from the Ingenious series produced by the American Chemical Society. Each episode investigates a different topic related to how leading-edge chemistry is taking on the world’s most urgent issues to advance everyone’s quality of life and secure our shared future. This episode investigates the global shortage in accessing clean water. Using a technology that was first developed to reuse dirty laundry water, scientists have developed a water treatment plant the size of a tea bag that contains a chemical triple-threat—it removes microbes, heavy metals, silt and dirt to produce clean, safe water.  

Grade Level

High School

Objectives

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • List common contaminants found in unclean water.
  • Provide examples of how drinking water can become contaminated. 
  • Describe the three stages of decontamination that occur when the water treatment packets are used to clean dirty water.
  • Suggest scenarios when the water treatment packets would be beneficial to use.

Chemistry Topics

This activity supports students’ understanding of:

  • Separating Mixtures
  • Physical Properties
  • Filtration
  • Environmental Chemistry

Time

Teacher Preparation: minimal
Lesson: 10-20 minutes

Materials

Safety

  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes

  • The Ingenious video series spotlights stories from the frontlines of chemistry research and development, where passionate innovators are stepping up to confront problems like pollution, overfishing, sustainability and personal safety.
  • This video, The World’s Smallest Water Treatment Plant Comes in a Packet, investigates the global shortage in accessing clean water. About 800 million people worldwide (that’s almost one in ten—more than the population of the United States!) don’t have reliable access to clean drinking water. Using a technology first developed to reuse dirty laundry water, scientists have developed a water treatment plant the size of a tea bag that contains a chemical triple-threat—it removes microbes, heavy metals, silt and dirt to produce clean, safe water.  
  • The running time of this video is about 7 minutes. As it is a short video and it moves quickly, you may want to show it twice, or instruct students to pause the video as needed on their own devices to ensure that they can record answers to all of the questions.
  • The student questions are presented in sequential order in the video.
  • An answer key has also been provided for teacher reference.
  • The final questions are reflection-based and might be helpful in prompting a class discussion after students have a few minutes to answer them independently.
  • The AACT classroom resource library offers a wide selection of teaching resources. Below are several select resources that could be used in combination with the topics highlighted in this video.

For the Student

Lesson

Instructions

While watching the video, answer the following questions:

  1. What are two common contaminants of unsafe water that can make people very sick?
  2. True or False? There are more people worldwide without reliable access to clean drinking water than the population of the United States.
  3. True or False? Dirty water that appears brown is due to microbiological contaminants.
  4. If drinking water is cross contaminated with wastewater people can get very sick from disease-causing microbes that enter the water. What is wastewater?
  5. What are the three stages that enable the water treatment packet to work?
  6. What is the ion symbol and charge for the iron (ferric) ion in the water treatment packet?
  7. Iron is an important part of the coagulating process to start to clean the dirty water—what contaminants do the iron ions help to separate from the water?
  8. True or False? Polyacrylamide is part of the second step in the water treatment process. A very important property of polyacrylamide is that it dissolves very quickly in water.
  9. What is chlorine’s role in the water treatment process from this packet?
  10. True or False? After the chemicals are mixed with the contaminated water, a physical filtration process is not needed.
  11. How many liters of clean water have been made possible by using this small water treatment packet?

After you watch the video, reflect on the following questions:

  1. Can you think of any additional scenarios that were not discussed in this video where the water treatment packet would be beneficial? Discuss your thoughts.
  2. What questions would you have for a scientist in this field? What more do you want to know?