Lane Cove Locals Ryley and Flynn Nolan Have Invented an Award Winning Water Cleaning Device

Congratulations to Ryley and Flynn Nolan, who recently were awarded joint first place in the Years 5 – 6 section of The Science Teachers Association NSW  Young Scientist Awards Program.

Ryley is currently in year 6 at St Ignatius College Riverview, and Flynn is in Year 4 at Lane Cove Public School.

Winning this award is no small achievement.  The Science Teachers Association NSW (STANSW) Young Scientist Awards Program celebrates the scientific investigations, technological innovations, and mathematical inquiries of K-12 school students across NSW. It encourages students to undertake innovative projects and investigations to find creative solutions to real-world problems.

Over 700 entries were received for the 2022 competition, with over 160 prizes being given at the Awards Ceremony, which was held on Friday, 4 November 2022 and sponsored by UTS.

Irena Tasevska, Executive Officer of STANSW said “The Young Scientist Awards gives students the opportunity to use their scientific thinking, innovation and creativity to tackle real-world problems. The students this year have shown incredible diversity and skill, and the judges were highly impressed by their creative ideas and their excellent scientific communication skills.”

Water Cleaning Device

Ryley and Flynn decided to use the innovative skills they had learned at school to design and build a water-cleaning device.  Their device certainly deals with a real-world problem.

Access to clean water is one of the United Nations Sustainable Goals.   The need for clean water is stated on the UN’s website as follows:

“Access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is the most basic human need for health and well-being. Billions of people will lack access to these basic services in 2030 unless progress quadruples. Demand for water is rising owing to rapid population growth, urbanization and increasing water needs from agriculture, industry, and energy sectors.

Decades of misuse, poor management, overextraction of groundwater and contamination of freshwater supplies have exacerbated water stress. In addition, countries are facing growing challenges linked to degraded water-related ecosystems, water scarcity caused by climate change, underinvestment in water and sanitation and insufficient cooperation on transboundary waters.

To reach universal access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030, the current rates of progress would need to increase fourfold. Achieving these targets would save 829,000 people annually, who die from diseases directly attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices.”

Ryley and Flynn set out to clean the dirty water in their in-ground fishpond by removing algae from the water. They developed a lower energy usage footprint and used gravity to remove the particles and pollutants.  They copied parts of nature, and put them together in a sequence, using bubbles and gravity to power the device.

When presenting the award to Ryley and Flynn STANSW noted:

“They set out to create a working prototype of a filter that would turn the dirty water into clean water, using as little energy as possible. They investigated many scientific principles to help them create their invention.”

Ryley and Flynn also demonstrated the device at the Eye Hart Science Expo.  Eye Heart Science is a Sydney based Science education company sharing and instilling a passion for providing fun, hands on and engaging Science experiences.  Their aim is to ignite young minds to think critically, equip them with a problem-solving mindset, and foster an inquiry-based learning culture where asking “why” is encouraged.


Possible Use in Rural/Remote Locations and Developing Countries

Ryley and Flynn recorded the video below showing how the water-cleaning device worked for the World Automation Congress (WAC).

“WAC is an international non-profit technical meeting dedicated to the dissemination of latest information among all nations of the world. It has always prided itself on helping scientists and professionals from economically disadvantaged nations ..”


Well done to Riley and Flynn.

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