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Rhinelander Class PFAS Project Doesn’t Advance In Competition, But Work To Continue

Ben Meyer/WXPR

A Rhinelander High School science class set out to create a PFAS water filter while competing in a national competition.

The class won’t advance in the contest, but it will still keep working on water quality.

Cheryl Esslinger’s Earth and Environmental Systems class was trying to design an effective, affordable filter for water.  Esslinger thought of the project after the contaminant was found in city water supplies this summer.

“PFAS was found in our Rhinelander water, and the well was shut down.  Then, before I even entered the contest, they talked about that spring in Crescent being shut down, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is a big thing,’” Esslinger said.

Credit Ben Meyer/WXPR
The featured component of one filter design is activated charcoal.

The class project became a State Finalist in Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow contest, which recognizes science, technology, engineering, and math in schools.

Esslinger got the news last week the project won’t advance.

“We were beyond impressed and humbled by the passion demonstrated by all State Finalist teachers and students,” Samsung said in a press release.

Esslinger said the class will continue its work on water quality.

It plans to test water at different sites in Oneida County in the spring and enter the Samsung contest again next year.


Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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