At-Home Activity: Trying to Clean Up

Watch Luke Murphy, Hanford Mills Museum’s Education Coordinator, do this activity in the What I Learned Wednesday Pollution video posted on 4/22. Then, follow these instructions and try it out at home.

NOTE: This activity can get messy.

 Large bowl or tray
 Smaller bowl
 Spoon
 Fork
 Strainer
 Clean water
 A few tablespoons of crushed up crackers or other food
 A few drops of liquid soap
 A few tablespoons’ worth of small pieces of paper
 Clock or timer
 Paper towels


  1. Pour water into the big bowl. Add crushed up crackers/food pieces, liquid soap, and pieces of paper to pollute the water.
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes (or watch the clock).
  3. Use the fork, spoon, and strainer to clean up the water as much as you can. When you remove the pollutants from the water, place them in the second, smaller bowl so it makes less of a mess.
  4. When the 10 minutes are up, place your tools down on the paper towels. Look at the water and how much pollution you were able to remove. How does it compare to the original clean water and the polluted water? Is this water still polluted?

Water is hard to clean. Even with the best equipment, cleaning is time consuming and expensive. The best way to keep pollutants out
of the water is to keep it clean in the first place: reducing, reusing, and recycling, and making sure our trash goes to the right place.

Bibliography: Would you like to learn more about pollution?
National Geographic. “Pollution.”

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