Charlotte high school students create rainwater collection system

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When it rains at the East Meck campus, it pours.

"This whole thing was a lake," said junior Charlotte Dice.

Leaving walkways a soggy mess.

"The water was just coming through the roof," said student William Willis.

"And you'd have to walk through the 400 hall to get to class or all the way around," added Dice.

A problem was in the gutters. They weren't build correctly and debris would clog them

"The water wouldn't even come out of them and it would just pile up so eventually the roof gave through and so it would start to leak," said Willis.

Out of the problem engineering and physics teachers saw a real life learning opportunity.

"It's a great way to have the kids design and build a project and also fix a problem," said engineering teacher Debra Semmler.

The solution: To have students design and build a rain barrel collection system.

"We put PVC pipes to run the water along to the edges of the roof, and then as you can see we put it in 90 degrees and just ran it straight down to our barrel."

The stud nets task was "to come up with a design, they had to give us a parts list, they had to give us an estimate of cost, they had to do a timeline of when they're going to paint, how they're going to paint," said Semmler.

The challenge: the water collected had to be utilized to make an impact on campus.

"See we have a faucet right here our plans is to hook up a hose to it so water can come out," said Willis.

The water that comes out of the faucet will be recycled.

"We're going to put some raised garden beds and probably use it for vegetables and herbs that we can use in our culinary department," Semmler.

There were bumps and learning lessons along the way.

"We tried to keep it simple so it wouldn't be too hard to build  and it ended up going a lot over our time limit," said Willis.

But more importantly the students got the job done.

"It no longer floods and it's easier to get to class," said Dice.

The engineering and physics students are hoping to expand the rain collection project. They are thinking of channeling the rainwater  to water the football field, saving the school thousands of dollars.

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