Florida Students Receive Heart of Haiti Award for Humanitarian Invention

If humanitarian projects are the next Sputnik, Gulliver Schools students in Miami, Fla., are being prepared to take the next small “step for mankind.” The PLTW Model School has participated in the National Engineering Design Challenge several years in a row, a competition that challenges students and raises disability awareness.

Gulliver Preparatory has twice attained championship status with two different devices: the Assistive Bag Lifting Enabler (A.B.L.E.), to aid maintenance employees with disabilities in the lifting of bags and transferring them to a container; and the Operational Portable Entry Device (O.P.E.N.), which helps individuals in wheelchairs open doors and provides an increased sense of independence that contributes to productivity in the workplace.

Gulliver students delivered their latest humanitarian project – a portable water purification system – to a children's hospital in Haiti in July 2010. The Clean Water Project was a joint effort by PLTW Engineering and Biomedical Sciences students. Biomedical Sciences students identified the bacteria in the water that causes health problems and the Engineering students created the device to filter the water.

Students were inspired to help Haiti following hurricanes that ravaged the country in previous years. The device employs an ultraviolet filter powered by a solar panel and is enclosed in a mobile chassis for portability. Water taken from local sources is poured into the device, which removes sediment and bacteria, producing clear and pure water to drink. The device was installed in a children’s hospital in Haiti with the help of Friends of the Orphans, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children.