Public television station KQED of northern California released an interactive, electronic book, “Engineering Is: Cleaning Poop from Drinking Water.Designed for middle and high school students, the e-book illustrates how scientists and engineers use standard processes and collaboration to solve problems. The e-book features a project led by Woods Research Associate Amy Pickering, who is also affiliated with Stanford's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Woods' Water, Health & Development Program.

The free electronic collection includes videos, interactive items and media-making opportunities. The e-book is available to teachers and the public from any device, and supports national standards for science education. The production emerged from Stanford’s science partnership with KQED, according to Andrea Aust, KQED Science Education Manager. This particular project was chosen because of its global implications, and due to Pickering’s passion for her work among other factors, Aust noted.

The e-book explores the science and engineering principles behind a technology developed by a team of Stanford students working on the Lotus Water project with Pickering, Woods Senior Fellow Stephen Luby (Medicine) and Woods Higgins-Magind Senior Fellow Jenna Davis (Civil and Environmental Engineering). The team developed a device to purify drinking water in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

“I wanted to participate in the e-book because it was a nice opportunity to be involved in a program to engage young students in science and engineering,” said Pickering. “I hope the e-book will help to show students that engineering can be used to tackle important real-world problems and improve quality of life.“

Three videos in the e-book project look at Pickering’s work from different angles. The animation, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Poop,” presents the problem the engineers attempted to solve. “Cleaning Poop from Drinking Water,” describes how the engineering team became aware of the problem and their problem-solving approach. The third video spotlights how Pickering became an environmental engineer, and how that choice affects her day-to-day life.

KQED has served over 120,000 subscribers with iTunes U courses that accompany its e-books. The station plans to publish a course developed around this - their latest e-book - plus other e-books in their "Engineering Is” series scheduled to come out later in 2015. The series includes the video Diagnosing Diseases With Origami Microscopes, which features Woods-affiliated Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Manu Prakesh. Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy took part in developing an additional four-part series, Clue into Climate, in 2014.