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story.lead_photo.caption Z'niah Nelson, 14, talks about her clean water project Tuesday at the Project Based Learning Expo for Texarkana, Ark., magnet students.

Working to end the fresh water project in underdeveloped countries sounds like a daunting project. But two local eighth graders took it on and were proud to show off their results at the recent Project Based Learning Expo.

The expo was the first Project Based Learning Expo for Texarkana, Ark., School District magnet students. The expo was held Tuesday on the Texarkana campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope

Z'niah Nelson, 14, and Jalynn Caldwell, 14, eighth-grade magnet students at North Heights Junior High, were inspired to do their water project after seeing ads on television.

"We were watching TV and saw commercials about water shortages," Z'niah said. "We wanted to raise awareness. There are so many places that don't have filtration treatment. We can go to the store and buy fresh water and they can't do that," she said.

The water project, featured the countries Yemen and Qatar as examples of places in need of fresh water.

"These are countries that need help," Z'niah said. The girls have researched and worked on the project since seventh grade.

One way to help with the crisis is to donate to reputable organizations such as "Drop in a Bucket" or "Save the Children," the girls learned.

Educators were excited to show off the projects also.

"Our district has trained magnet teachers in a method of teaching called Project Based Learning, or PBL. This is our third year doing it and we wanted an opportunity to celebrate our work," said Felicia Horn, magnet coordinator for North Heights Junior High and committee chair of the PBL steering committee.

PBL has been taught in grades K through 8, Horn said.

"It's been the right fit for our district. We really wanted to prepare them for 21st century learning," Horn said.

Horn said a goal of the committee has been to hold an expo to show off the students' work.

Tuesday's event featured 31 projects worked on by about 80 students and 30 teachers. Nine local judges were tasked with choosing some of the best projects.

Horn said a partnership in funding for the project was Discovery Education, which also had a booth at the event.