Sunday, July 26, 2015

WaterWorks! Monday, August 4: MINNCOR Industries Presentations and Treatment Plant Tour

by Steven Beardsley

We were in the MINNCOR Industries Conference Room at the ETC
Today marked the start of the 3 day teacher’s Institute, WaterWorks!, that focuses on providing resources to teachers for integrating water into their curriculum. The institute has been running for fifteen years thanks to the diligence of Associate Director of Professional Development at Hamline, Lee Schmitt, and Stew Thornley from the Department of Health. The day started off with Lee leading teachers in a discussion of what they wished teaching science was like with a lot of metaphors talking about science being dynamic and interesting like a waterfall or diving deep into an ocean. We then did an activity where participants had to determine which clear liquid was water through a series of tests. Participants used a variety of tests to determine the liquid’s identity including: solubility, ph, smell, surface tension, reaction with baking soda, and reaction with a penny. This was a fun activity that got participants thinking about how to manage finite resources while trying to identify an important resource.

Lee Leading Morning Activities
“Water on Zork” activity

Stew Thornley presents on Water in Minnesota

MINNCOR Industries and Water Treatment Presentations

VP of Sales, Mark Thompsen, presenting on MINNCOR
After the morning activities, Mark Thompsen, who is the VP of Sales at MINNCOR Industries, did a presentation about the work that he does for MINNCOR. He helps sell the variety of products that individuals incarcerated make such as paintings, dorm room furniture, license plates, tables, and more. MINNCOR provided a great example of diversifying their products in order to meet the needs of a variety of people. Stew Thornley did a presentation about the history of water treatment. His presentation revealed that it wasn’t until about a hundred years ago that people started to realize that contaminated water could actually spread diseases. Keeping water clean through a variety of methods also becomes complicated.

Bus to Saint Paul Regional Water Services

Tour of Water Treatment Facility and Water Chemistry

John Thom on Water Chemistry

In fact, John Thom from SEH, Inc., gave a presentation about the chemistry involved in water treatment. He talked mostly about water hardness, alkalinity, and ph. Moreover, removing certain contaminants from water means that other things needed to be added in in order to balance the ph and other qualities. Participants got to experience this by visiting the Saint Paul Regional Water Services. We got a tour around the building and were able to see the various stages that water goes through from flocculation to filtration. This particular plant pumps up to 50 million gallons of water on average on a given day in a year. We also got the chance to test water ph with various water bottles filled from water around the state including: water from wells, water from Brooklyn Park, Saint Paul, and other places. The ph varied in these particular places, revealing a lot about water management and treatment. We also got the chance to measure fluoridation in the water, or the amount of fluoride added in the water to reduce tooth decay.

Inside the Filter Room
Final Thoughts

Water is an important resource that has influenced the rise and fall of civilizations. States across the country, countries across the globe, and other parts of the world are dealing with access to clean sources of water. It’s clear that the treatment of water will become even more important in the near future as more cities like Toledo and San Francisco search for cleaner sources of water. Overall, it was a good day to learn more about where our water comes from and the complicated steps involved in treating it.
Flocculator inside the Treatment Plant

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