Students build soccer goal that also provides filtered drinking water

Posted: Updated:
JERSEY CITY -

A group of Jersey City middle schoolers is mixing their studies and their love for soccer to potentially help change the world.

Jersey City School 28, like most schools in the city, has its water fountains turned off due to high levels of lead in the water. Drinking water is brought in in jugs.

But the school is also home to a sizable number of soccer-obsessed students. There aren’t any soccer fields or parks in their neighborhood, so they often play soccer in a nearby blacktop lot, using the porch of decrepit vacant trailers as a goal.

School 28 has a vibrant STEM program, run in part by science teacher Robert O'Donnell. O’Donnell is so dedicated to the school and his students that he even sports a School 28 tattoo on his arm.

O’Donnell and his students decided to solve two problems with one science project – and built a soccer goal that also dispenses filtered drinking water. It was built entirely by the students and their teachers.

The goal dispenses water that is 99% clear of lead. The pipes that make up the goal serve as a reserve tank that holds the water. The pump used for the soccer balls also boosts the pressure inside the pipes, pushing the water through a filter and out through the spigot. The soccer goal fountain is filled up by a hose from the school.

Teacher Joel Naatus, who helped build the goal, is traveling to Peru this summer where he's hoping to build one for kids there. But the students say that they have bigger goals for their soccer goals.

"The plan with these is we can also build these in different countries for kids who have a passion for soccer but don't have a water filter where they can drink from,” says student Salma Nunez.

Jersey City's Municipal Utilities Authority says it is planning to install lead filters in every school by January to provide clean drinking water.

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