ANDERSON — It was a Friday night and 16 kids huddled around metal boxes but they weren’t watching TV or playing video games. They were building something.
“Righty tighty, lefty loosey,” one boy said while placing a screw in the frame. “In propane tanks it’s different, though.”
It was just normal chit chat among the adolescents while they worked. They talked about school, compared height and had friendly back and forth banter.
But normal conversation aside, the First United Methodist Church’s youth group wasn’t working on just any ordinary project. They were putting together purifier controllers to bring clean water to people across the globe.
The youth group worked on the controllers during a lock-in Dec. 20. The rest of the evening consisted of games and a theme party, youth pastor Jake Brooks said, but the kids devoted more than an hour to assembling the devices.
The controllers are part of a larger machine called a chlorinator, which uses 12 volts from any type of power source, said Dave Peter, a member of the church who guided the kids. The system uses the power source, regular salt and water to create chlorine that kills harmful bacteria.
Peter, who is an electrical engineer, said the church has been involved for several years with New Life International, a nonprofit Christian organization that sends purification systems to countries throughout the world. It inspired him and his company TriCord Innovations to help.
Peter said the company first created a controller that cost $1,000 to 3,000 and didn’t work very well. The second generation, which is what the kids assembled during the lock-in, is simpler and costs less than $100.
“In some respects it’s a world changer,” he said.
An estimated 185 million people relied on surface water to meet their daily drinking water needs in 2011, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Throughout the world, millions of people use the same water source for drinking and all their other needs like bathing and laundry.
The unsanitary conditions contribute to people to contracting diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and guinea worm infection. WHO estimated that 2.5 million people died from diarrhoeal disease in 2008.
Each system can help provide clean water to about 1,000 people, Peter said.
The group worked to assemble the first 10 controllers. Brooks said he wasn’t sure if they finished all 10, but he said the kids at least came close.
“I really try to explain to (the youth group) that these are the first batch of controllers ever made,” Brooks said. “They’ll be sent out all over the world.
“They expressed their excitement of being a part of something bigger, something involved like that (and) realizing how far their involvement is going.”
Like Kelly Dickey on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KellyD_THB, or call 640-4805.