by Jason Mitchell and Larry Grabow
For the past seven years during the month of February, MMWD’s Water Quality Laboratory has provided tours to local high school and college students. The majority of students have come from sections of the Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science course at Redwood High School, but students also have hailed from the school’s general science courses. In addition, the laboratory has provided tours for the College of Marin Environmental Studies classes, and this year for the first time tours were provided to Tamalpais High School’s Environmental Science sections.
The 45-minute tour includes general information about the water district, background on drinking water regulations, the testing and instrumentation involved with providing the required data to meet those regulations, and information about environmental analyses in general.
During and after the tour students are encouraged to ask questions related to drinking water quality. This year’s questions involved recent events of concern such as radioactivity in the drinking water supply following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan (MMWD was not affected), and algae-related taste and odor prevention during the summer months. The two teachers heading the high school programs, Mitch Cohen from Redwood High School and John Ginsburg from Tamalpais High, also asked questions related to the curriculum in their courses such as disinfection and fluoridation. Although the 8:00 a.m. tour groups looked a little tired, all the groups were attentive and had smart questions and comments.
Here is an excerpt from an e-mail from Mitch Cohen from Redwood High School after the tours in 2011:
Dear MMWD Management,
I am writing to thank you for your continuing support of high school science education. For the 4th straight year, my Advanced Placement Environmental Sciences Classes have had the opportunity to tour your water quality testing lab. It is a unique opportunity for students to be able to see a functioning laboratory that deals with the concepts we are covering in class. Thanks again to Jason Mitchell and all of the MMWD management for providing this ongoing opportunity to your high school neighbors.
Redwood High School Science Department
If you are a teacher interested in bringing your class for a tour, please contact Senior Chemist Jason Mitchell to learn more. Tours are best suited to AP science students and are offered on a limited basis as staff time allows.