Imagine A Day With Water 2022

Because change is always with us, the Value of Water Campaign is turning it around this year. Instead of ‘Imagine a Day Without Water‘, this year we’re looking at ‘Imagine a Day With Water.’ Unfortunately, many Americans are still living without access to clean water. With these communities in mind, we’d like to ‘Imagine a Day With Water’, spreading awareness of water inequity and working to bridge the gap.

A sustainable water future always depends on the involvement of the next generation. That’s why we’ve published this family-friendly water experiment for kids to spark an interest in protecting the water environment.

Water Filtration Experiment


  • Large plastic soda bottle
  • Scissors
  • Two clear plastic cups
  • Cotton balls
  • Activated charcoal (can be found in a pet store)
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Supplies to make dirty water – ie oil, dirt, glitter..etc


Step 1

With the help of an adult, cut the bottom third off a plastic bottle using the scissors.

Step 2

Place the bottle upside down into one of the cups to use as a funnel.

Step 3

Stuff a layer of 5-10 cotton balls tightly into the bottom of the funnel. There should be enough cotton balls to prevent any sand from falling out into the cup.

Step 4

Add a layer of activated charcoal over the cotton balls.

Step 5

Add a layer of sand over the activated charcoal.

Step 6

Add a layer of gravel over the sand.

Step 7

Take the second cup and fill it with water. Add things in to make it dirty – ie. dirt, oil, glitter and/or anything you have in your home.

Step 8

Pour the cup of dirty water into the homemade water filter.

Step 9

Observe the water as it drips into the glass below. How does the dirty water compare to the filtered water?

NOTE: Do not drink the water, it is not filtered enough for drinking.

Did you try this experiment? We would love to see your results! Send photos to

Learning About Filtration

In our system, water passes four stages of filtration.

  1. Larger particles are removed from the water as they pass through the gravel
  2. Smaller solids are removed as they pass through the sand
  3. Even smaller particles and some chemicals are filtered out as they pass through the activated charcoal.
  4. Finally, any remaining larger particles are held in as they pass through the fibers of the cotton balls, which also serves to keep the sand, gravel and activated charcoal from leaving the filter.

This simple at-home experiment is highly simplified, but similar to the filtration process used in water treatment plants, which may also utilize sand, gravel, and charcoal as part of a more intricate filter system.

Visit Imagine A Day Without Water for more youth educational resources.

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