With periods of flooding becoming more frequent and severe, water management issues have come to Oregon’s forefront in recent years.
And while keeping water clean and keeping it out of your downtown (or basement), there are plenty of challenges — as well as some interesting things to learn for curious tweens.
Last month, Rome Corners Intermediate School sixth-graders got up to speed on the latest technology in keeping water fresh for drinking for thousands of people around the area, during a visit to the Oregon Wastewater Treatment Plant.
And in the past few months, students have studied ecology and engineering design by creating and perfecting a water filtration system. The tour, which has become an annual event, showed students how it’s actually done, teacher Kelsey Borne wrote the Observer in an email.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn more about how contaminants are removed from wastewater before it is released to local watersheds and learn about the engineering behind the plant,” she wrote. “(They) always welcome us with open arms and are very accommodating with tour times and dates. This is a field trip the teachers, students and even parents look forward to.”
Borne said it’s often difficult for students at that age to envision what engineers actually do because the field is so large and varied.
“This trip helps students see what the daily life of an engineer in their community is like and sparks interest from many for possible career paths,” she wrote.
In emails to the Observer, a few students wrote about what they learned, including Ben Baker, who said he was interested in chemical engineering, and Owen Foffel, who is interested in the “high variety of things you do” as an engineer. Anthony Norton said he likes engineering “because you get to build things and make them better.”
Jack Clunn said biomedical engineering is a particular field he wants to learn more about, although he enjoys science as a fun subject overall.
“You get to work in groups with your friends and on the trips you get to know new people,” he wrote.
Students took a number of things away from the tour, including the transition from dirty to clean water, and the importance of having a good system to clean that water. Brock Antoniewicz said his favorite step used air bubbles and bugs that killed the bacteria, while Maureece Anderson was interested by the skimmers to take off the top layer of waste.
Autumn Lisser noted that the engineers said some strange things can be found during filtration, including money.
Meika Rayala said she realized how important the water filtration process was.
“If they didn’t handle it well many people would get sick and the environment wouldn’t be as healthy as it is today,” she wrote.
And John Flores-Larsen summed up perhaps the main takeaway for students and a field trip that was both fun and informative.
“Some people think it may be gross, but it’s helping us (our community) to have clean water,” he wrote.