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Full Steam Ahead! Living Waters Course in Review

Jun 24 2016

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Smooth Sailing for Teacher Education Course
Day 1 Jardine Group Photo

Living Waters, SCARCE’s water-focused graduate credit course for teachers, just finished it’s 2016 run. Teachers from across DuPage County were treated to a week of site visits, hands-on learning and meaningful classroom discussions all to help them better understand where our water comes from, where it goes, and how it impacts us right here in DuPage County. Living Waters field trips are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and many of SCARCE’s stops include sites that are off-limits to the general public.

This year’s group represented  York High School, Downers Grove North, Hinsdale South, Maine East, Eisenhower Junior High (Darien), Hillcrest & Lester elementary schools (Downers Grove), and Hawthorne and Sandburg elementary schools (Wheaton).

Course Highlights

From day one they hit the ground running! Teachers hopped on the bus to the shores of Lake Michigan to tour the highly-restricted Jardine Water Purification Plant in Chicago – where one billion gallons of drinking water are cleaned and distributed each day. The Jardine Plant is the largest of it’s kind in the world and was a feat of engineering when it was completed in 1968 and remains a sight to see. On their way back, they viewed the Lexington Pumping Station, a site that many commuters pass daily without knowing it, and the DuPage County Water Commission. Both are integral pieces to providing fresh, Lake Michigan drinking water to DuPage County.

As the week went on, teachers toured the Woodridge wastewater treatment plant (the other end of the water spectrum), and spent an afternoon at Lyman Woods in Downers Grove taking water samples and checking out their stormwater absorbent green roof and honey bee hives. They learned about restoration of the West Branch of the DuPage River at the Urban Stream Research Center at Blackwell Forest Preserve, and got wet wading into the the river to collect more samples. All in all, SCARCE staff and the teachers explored 14 sites encompassing everything from drinking water to wastewater, native and invasive species, stormwater management, water quality and scarcity – with all but one site inside our very own county.

Making Connections

Teachers reflected on their experiences each day and did hands-on activities to help bring what they’ve seen back into the classroom. Throughout the week, teachers were encouraged to ask questions of their site guides and to find out about careers in water-related fields from those doing the work first-hand. The better our students’ teachers understand real-world applications of learning, the better than can inspire our students to discover their niche.

It’s a jammed packed week for teachers and staff alike but in the end, they walk away more knowledgeable about our water systems and how each of us can educate and participate to preserve our precious water resources and pass that passion and knowledge along to the next generation. We would like to thank our group of enthusiastic teachers for a great week as well as DuPage County Stormwater Education for helping to fund this amazing class.

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