Drinking Water Institute Gets Off the Ground

From the Fall 2001 Waterline, the quarterly newsletter of the Minnesota Department of Health Public Water Supply Unit, © Waterline, Minnesota Department of Health

Teachers at the Drinking Water InstituteWith the participation of the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Minnesota Section American Water Works Association (AWWA) Education Committee held its first Drinking Water Institute for teachers in June at the Eden Prairie Water Plant.

Designed to teach teachers about drinking water and how to teach it in their classrooms, these Institutes are part of an initiative by the Education Committee to eventually having an ongoing group of high-school graduates in Minnesota who are well versed on drinking water by virtue of having had curriculum on the subject as a key part of their education at several different grade levels. The committee believes that this type of knowledge will benefit everyone by having people who know the value of water and using it wisely and why legislation supporting drinking water is important.

Those from the drinking water profession—including Dan Boyce of East Grand Forks Power and Light, John Thom of SEH, Inc., and Bruce Olsen of the Minnesota Department of Health, in addition to Jarrod Christen of Detroit Lakes and a group of students who organized a water festival in that city—covered the basic content on drinking water. Lee Schmitt, director of teacher education for the Science Museum of Minnesota, worked with the teachers on ways to develop inquiry-based curriculum on the topic. Local science teachers John Olson and Marty Davis also led the teachers in water activities.

Detroit Lakes students presenting at the Drinking Water InsituteOn the final day of the three-day Institute, water superintendents from the areas where the teachers are from came in to explain some of the specific aspects and features of water supply and treatment in their communities.

Teachers began writing an action plan on how to introduce drinking-water education into their classroom and will return for a follow-up session on October 27 to report on what they have done. Teachers who participate in the entire Institute, including the follow-up day, will receive two college credits or an equivalent stipend.

The initial Institute was funded by contributions made by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Section AWWA as well as the Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Central, and Southeast Districts of Minnesota AWWA. The districts have pledged a certain amount of money from each registrant at their water schools to be directed to the youth education program. The Minnesota Section Education Committee will now seek contributions from others, including commercial organizations, to fund future Drinking Water Institutes.

Note: In 2002, the Drinking Water Institute received a national education award from the American Water Works Association.

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Updated Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 06:42AM