Highkey Science teaches kids how to filter water

A central New York-based organization is taking science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for the youth to a different level.

Steve Williams, owner and operator of Highkey Science (a mobile learning organization), travels “from place to place and sets up engaging, fun and hands-on STEM-based play and learning sessions for kids.”

“We take the typical heavy reading and writing out of it, and use resources in order to explore and play with the science, technology, engineering and math behind it,” he said.

Highkey Science’s latest event took place at Durkee Park in Homer. Partnering with the village of Homer and Phillips Free Library, Highkey Science hosted the Dirty Water Filtration Project event, which entailed participants making their own filtered water.

Participants mixed the usual classroom science materials (beakers, tubes, measuring units, etc.) with 2-liter bottles and milk jugs, rocks, sand and soil and things in nature to build water filters.

“We told the kids that they can be resourceful with things they can find around the house, outside or in the recycling bin,” he added, as participants were given an opportunity to test different materials for their “filtering properties.”

The filters that the participants built helped to fill out impurities in the water, Williams said.

“They designed the water themselves,” he said. “They use their observation senses with the water and use the best way to filter it out.”

After the participants tested multiple individual filters, they decided which filter came out the best from use of the ordinary materials.

“It sounds like a lot of learning, but when you get in front of the kids and bring the energy and fun, they enjoy the learning process,” Williams said.

The goal for Williams and Highkey Science through Saturday’s event and others down the road is to “try to get the kids to have something that will ultimately change their world.”

“Sometimes, the high stakes of school and testing limits their ability to be creative problem solvers,” he said. “Classroom work is equally important, but I’m trying to get these kids to have fun with those subjects outside of the classroom.”

Williams also said holding events like the one on Saturday help to teach the engaged participants how to map, draw and label a plan out “before implementing it.”

Williams appreciated the turnout for Saturday’s event and others in the past, saying “it shows how supportive communities are for these events and what we’re trying to do with Highkey Science.”

Check out the Highkey Science website for questions and to learn more about the organization.