Francisca, third from left, and her teammates and school officials pose with their medals earned by their winning eco filter design | Photo courtesy of the Fundación Kodea

Chilean students create eco filter for ‘gray water’ treatment

I feel satisfied and so happy to be improving people's lives with our winning idea, contributing my grain of sand. It was a challenge for my teammates and me, but we are proud of the result.

Francisca Cortez
Interview Subject
Francisca Cortez is a student at the Liceo América de Los Andes, in the Valparaíso region of Chile. She was a member of the winning team of the 2020 Los Creadores Digital Talent Award.
Background Information
The Los Creadores Digital Talent Award, organized by Fundación Kodea, works to foster innovation by challenging Chilean students to develop digital skills that will help face the face the challenges of the 21st century.

The 2020 winning project was an “Eco Filter,” created via 3D-printer, which treats gray water (a type of waste water from sources such as washing utensils and clothes). This treatment allows non-potable water to be reused for domestic use.

Liceo América de Los Andes middle school students Francisca Cortez, Sebastián Arias, Joaquín Soto, and Belén Pizarro formed the winning team, guided by teacher Marcela Otárola.

LOS ANDES, Chile—My name is Francisca, and I am from Chile. I never imagined that participating in a school project would change the lives of so many people. I took part and helped invent a water filter without realizing the impact it could have.

Hearing about the contest

One morning at school in 2020, there was a rumor in the hallways that the Los Creadores Digital Talent Award would take place for the fourth year in a row. Until then, I had not learned about the subject and did not have enough information about what the contest entailed. In addition, I was not pleased to think about words like award, talent, and scholar; I do not like to compete under any circumstance.

Anyways, I will not deny that it seemed interesting despite that. I looked forward to recess every day and there, consulted with one of my classmates about the award. He explained that it was not a competition designed for a cynical purpose, but rather one where contestants could showcase their talents and connect technology and capabilities.

Upon hearing this distinction, I was fascinated and knew I wanted to participate. I ran and went to find friends who I thought would be perfect to accompany me on this project. One idea after another began to flash inside my brain.

Gathering friends and finding inspiration

I told my friends how excited I was about this opportunity and that I wanted to do it together. We are young, and have the imagination and the ability to create absolutely whatever we want, I exclaimed.

Not even two seconds went by before all three of them said they were in, as well. Right then, we projected our vision. Our goal was to find a problem that we currently had, not only locally but also globally.

I had so many ideas at once that none were clear to me. I needed to wash my face and calm my head.

When I went to the bathroom, I turned the tap on, and the water that came out was light brown, almost a gray color; I felt disgusted to wash my face with it. I thought: “If it disgusts me to wash my face with this dirty and contaminated water, what must a person who has no other choice but to use this water to survive every day feel?”

Formulating our winning eco filter idea

I immediately knew this was the project we had to present. We needed to create and implement a solution for people who use “gray water” for domestic purposes.

Together, we decided the best solution was a filter. Trying to make it an economical solution, we worked and reworked our idea until we had a filter that is easy to assemble and use thanks to 3D printers, and not only that—they are also reusable.

I feel satisfied and so happy to be improving people’s lives with our winning idea, contributing my grain of sand. It was a challenge for my teammates and me, but we are proud of the result.

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Daiana Stocco studies Social Communication. She currently writes articles of general interest in Latinamericanpost. She has experience in news writing and is about to launch her own blog to publish her poems and communication concepts.