News Feature | January 2, 2018

Middle Schoolers Develop App For Water Quality Testing

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

In an innovative reminder of how the next generation can change water treatment practices, middle school students in Massachusetts have developed a new digital tool for water quality testing.

A Lego League team in Westford, MA, called the Orange Stormgears introduced a mobile app that can test the lead and pH levels in water, per India New England News. Lego League is an international competition for young students working to solve scientific and real-world problems.

“Orange Stormgears have created a mobile app called AquaTestPro which tests the lead and pH levels in water using simple test strips,” according to the report. “The test strips change color when you dip it into the water, based on the pH or lead values in the water… The app takes a picture of the test strips, and accurately reads the RGB values and interprets the test results, while eliminating any human errors.”

While this technology may more readily be applied at point sources, its focus on pH and, particularly, lead contamination will surely grab the attention of regulators and central treatment plant operators.

“Lead can get in drinking water through corrosion of household plumbing,” the report explained. “[The U.S.] EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health events at low exposure levels. Lead is persistent, and it can bioaccmulate in the body over time.”

Also noteworthy is the young age of the team that was able to create such advanced testing technology.

“As a coach I was truly amazed by the technology and research skills of these 12 year olds,” the Stormgears coach, Santosh Sapkal, said. “Each member spent more than 20 hours every week for [the] last 11 weeks and learned iOS programming by taking online courses … and research in depth about drinking water quality and testing and developed an iOS app which solved a very common health hazard but neglected problem.”

It was not immediately clear if and when this technology would be widely available, but if such young researchers can develop a novel solution for quality testing, perhaps operations everywhere are in line for more advancement.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Analysis Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Apps,” Pixel Fantasy, 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: