This is a sponsored article on behalf of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Flooding and water pollution are growing problems in urban environments like London. When it rains, infrastructure such as roads, buildings, and car parks can prevent water from soaking into the ground's subsurface. This leads to additional surface run-off, thus increasing the magnitude of floods and the amount of pollution in the waterways.
Luckily, civil engineers have a few solutions up their sleeves. One of these — permeable paving — is beautifully demonstrated by London engineer Gabriel Solis in his entry for this year's Pitch 200, an annual competition by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
Take a look:
The competition challenges civil engineers from all over the world to explain an aspect of engineering in the most creative and accessible way possible. The catch? They must do so in only 200 seconds.
As you can see, Gabriel devised a simple experiment to show how permeable paving can prevent urban flooding which you can easily replicate at home.
Stones, sand, and charcoal are layered into a plastic bottle to represent the porous layers of permeable paving — each of which provide a "differing level of filtration". Dirty water is then poured into the bottle, trickling through each layer before coming out of the other side clean — and if you're curious about how this works in real life, check out the permeable paving at Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf.
Gabriel's clever demo has earned him a place in the Pitch 200 final — and now you've got the chance to help him win. He's battling it out against seven other ICE members from around the world, with entries including a salmon's-eye view of dams, and a chimney demolition demo featuring sparklers and a tower of bagels.
You can watch all of the entries and vote for your favourite on the ICE website. It's a brilliant introduction to some of the fundamentals of civil engineering, and a fun way to learn how it impacts us and the world at large.
Voting is totally free and three randomly selected voters will be rewarded with a snazzy ICE water bottle.
The competition closes at 11.59pm on Wednesday 18 August. The winner will be announced in September, taking home a £400 cash prize and the coveted title of ICE Pitch 200 Champion.