Innovation Gateway Challenge, presented by BHP

Design & Build a Water Filtration System

Be part of the NASA mission. Compete in a new series of challenges through our Innovation Gateway, a community science initiative. Everyday explorers – just like you – have the opportunity to provide useful solutions to further space exploration and our world.

In this challenge, you will design, build, and test a water filtration system.

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Clean Drinking Water is a Must

Water is the key to life as we know it, on and off of planet Earth. We use water to grow our crops, keep us hydrated, clean just about everything we have, and more. The atoms that make up water can even be used as fuel for cars and rockets! But water can become contaminated, which would make it unsuitable to drink. When this happens on Earth, the water cycle has the ability to purify our water and make it potable, or safe to drink. But there are also things that we can do to make water more drinkable.

NASA’s Essential Water Filtration

Water filtration is important to NASA more than ever as crewed missions to Mars are on the horizon, but the International Space Station has been utilizing recycled water for over 20 years! Because of the scarcity of water outside of Earth and how much it costs to launch water from Earth’s surface, NASA has allocated many resources to being able to reuse any water that may be excreted by an astronaut during a mission. This means that the ISS has its own water cycle that can make our urine drinkable again!


Winners will receive two general admission tickets to Space Center Houston where they will be able to display their project at our Planet Earth Celebration in April! Winners who can’t visit in person will have the opportunity to virtually chat with an astronaut and also virtually present their project.


Level 1: Design and build a water filtration system that removes particulate matter.

Level 2: Design and build a water filtration system that disinfects water using UV radiation.

Level 3: Design and build a two-phase water filtration system that removes particulate matter AND disinfects water using UV radiation.

Helpful hints for all levels:

  • Explore the resources provided below to find many answers to your questions, including a NASA water filtration activity
  • Work with family and friends to develop your system.
  • Submit your entry by using the submission form on this webpage.
  • Be creative!


Level 1, 2, & 3
Submit three pictures and a short document:

  1. A picture that shows all elements of your water filtration system.
  2. A picture of the water before it enters your filtration system. (This water should be intentionally contaminated, so you may add soil or dirt to make the water murky.)
  3. A picture of the water after it has passed through your filtration system.

Entries must be submitted before 7 p.m. CT April 19 using the submission form on this webpage.

Resources & inspiration

Virtual Campout

Register for our March 20 Virtual Campout to get a step-by-step demonstration of how to build a water filtration system using house-hold materials. Virtual Campouts are offered to anyone who would like to participate and are you-pay-what-you-can events.

Register now
To support your research, review these resources to help get you started.


Individual submissions:

  • Rezaei Amirmohammad, age 12
  • Alireza Hadimoghadam, age 14
  • Dev Patani, age 11
  • Shivali Patani, age 7
  • Delaney Simpson, age 17

Group submissions:

  • Alyson Mellon, Peyton Szymanski, and Kensley Morris
  • Delaney Simpson, Ashley Nickerson, Ella Roark, and Lindsay Sherman
  • Alexis Jerde, Patrick Donovan, Natalie Escobar, and Albert Devere

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