GREAT FALLS- Last year Sun River faced flooding that destroyed crops and homes. Now a Simms High School science teacher has turned the unfortunate event into a unique project that could change the world.
"Everyone else in Sun River it was actually not even possible for I think three days because there was so much water there. One of our neighbors lost half his crop,” said Mackenzie Wiegand, a senior at Simms High School.
After flooding in their hometown caused water contamination issues, Hollern and his students wanted to find a solution: Eliminating contamination by engineering a silver nanoparticle water filter so people, not just in their community, but globally, will be able to access water.
Little did Hollern know, he and two students, Madison and Mackenzie Wiegand, would end up winning the contest and a $20,000 prize to go towards their next experiment.
In the meantime, this filtration system goes far beyond water contamination disasters. It can even be used for hikers, hunters, and campers who need a drink of water.
"You can think of this a prototype for a portable water filtration system that any Montanan can use. You can take it out into the Bob Marshall Wilderness and you're guaranteed fresh drinking water,” said Hollern.
Here's how it works. There are two separate prototypes. One's named, a hippo roller, the other, a coffee can. When describing the hippo roller, Hollern says it's perfect for use in third world countries, because it can hold roughly 50 gallons of water.
"You fill the Hippo Roller at the well. What we've designed is a cap that has a silver nanoparticle in it so as the contaminated water pass through the filter, it's cleaned,” said Hollern.
Since they won this contest, they'll actually move on to the next round where a $100,000 prize and a chance to go to a Samsung pitch in April are at stake.
Hollern says he's hoping to have this system officially up and running within the next year or two.