Explorations in Water Science and Engineering Education

A free hands-on program in water science and engineering education for high school students and teachers, hosted by the University of Washington Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 2013-2018

Overview: Two FREE summer workshops held at the University of Washington - one for teachers, and one for students - introduced participants to the exciting and increasingly important field of Environmental Engineering, with special focus on the science and technologies we utilize to ensure the safety of our drinking water supplies. These workshops have been held with support from the National Science Foundation, with the goal of helping to motivate and educate the next generation of environmental engineers.

By engaging high school teachers and students in an interactive, informative, and fun laboratory setting - we aim to highlight how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) principles taught at the high school level are linked to engineering practice, as well as to provide participants with exposure to cutting-edge research in water sciences and engineering.

Summaries of the typical content and schedules for each workshop are included below.


Teacher workshop:

Target audience - Seattle area STEM teachers, grades 9-12

A foremost aim of the teacher workshop has been to facilitate water sciences and engineering education within high school classrooms. Participating teachers work with UW researchers during the course of the workshop to: (a) learn the basic physical, chemical, and microbiological principles underpinning a variety of common water quality analysis methods, (b) explore how these methods are used to monitor and design water treatment processes, and (c) develop interactive teaching labs and other instructional resources that can be utilized to share this knowledge with students, as a means of connecting general STEM curricula directly to practical applications in water sciences and engineering.

Examples of instructional resources developed during prior years’ teacher workshops are freely accessible via the following links (additional resources available upon request):

  1. Water, water everywhere, but is it safe to drink?: An instructional unit comprising a 3-day teaching lab module and three guided inquiry learning activities, focusing on concepts ranging from watershed protection to design of drinking water disinfection processes. Supplementary Powerpoint slides can be accessed here.

  1. Selection of water treatment processes: A guided inquiry learning activity focusing on identification and selection of appropriate water treatment strategies based on raw water quality.

  1. Jar test and filtration lab: A 1-2 day lab module focusing on basic principles and applications of coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration processes in water treatment.

  1. Algal blooms and the water supply: An instructional unit comprising a guided inquiry learning activity and two accompanying lab modules focusing on concepts ranging from eutrophication of water supplies to measurement of chlorophyll by fluorescence.

A typical schedule for past years’ teacher workshops is provided below:


Student workshop:

Target audience - Seattle area students entering grades 11-12 in Fall

Under the guidance of UW researchers, participating students have had the opportunity to perform a variety of laboratory experiments demonstrating how physics, chemistry, and microbiology are applied to purify the water we drink, and have been able to use these skills to analyze and treat real water samples obtained on a field trip to a local drinking water plant. Students have also had the chance to learn from UW students and faculty about undergraduate student life at the University of Washington and possible career options for aspiring environmental engineers.

A typical schedule for past years’ student workshops is provided below:

Please contact Michael Dodd at doddm@uw.edu or 206-685-7583 for additional information.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers CBET 1236303 and 1254929. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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