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Cool Schools: Real-Life Lesson On Handling Wastewater

6:01 AM, Apr 12, 2012   |    comments
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GERMANTOWN, Md. (WUSA) -- Students are learning the science behind the sludge and possibly tapping in to a future career.

Clean water is something many of us take for granted -- until you see wastewater.

Gaithersburg High School freshman Lennox Acheambong shared what happened to him when he saw some: "I almost threw up it was disgusting."

Showing students what happens after you flush is what Marty Johnson does and budding scientists spend the day at a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission plant to learn what it takes to keep the tap running clear.

Student Katherine Morales told us, "The dark part is so cool -- how it stays at the bottom and the clean stuff goes up. That really amazed me."

Marty Johnson explained, "The bacteria are the worker bees in this process. They're doing the job. The things that are in that sludge mass."

The science behind the sludge is important not only for public health but for inspiring future scientists in the classroom and the real world.

"It gives them enough information so that when they go into biology next year they will have a better understanding of what does it mean to have a bio-indicator -- meaning a living thing that we can sort of tell us what the bacteria levels are," said Masie Lynch with GHS.

WSSC's Angela Ballard-Landers said about the lesson and students, "They get to a plant, they see the process they like hands on, they like science. Here they are 30 years later."

For some of the Gaithersburg High School students, that statement is not that far-fetched. Rikia Howard says bio chemistry is her calling.

"At first I didn't know what it was, and then, but then when I got here I was like 'wow, this is really cool seeing all of this stuff,'" said Howard.

For others, battling bacteria might not be their future but they sure won't take clean water or bacteria for granted.

"And to know they are living inside us, yeah, that's kind of creepy," said Lennox Acheambong.

That's exactly why finding more students who share Marty Johnson's point of view is so important.

If you have a Cool School, send me email to mhydeck@wusa9.com.
Maybe we'll highlight your program next week.


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