Liquid News

Irvine Ranch Water District Specialists Discuss Careers with Students

IRWD Participates in Irvine Unified School District’s Annual Science Career Options Conference

As part of the Irvine Unified School District’s Annual Science Career Options Conference, Irvine Ranch Water District Water Quality Laboratory Supervisor Melinda Bergen and engineer Jacob Moeder gave presentations to seventh grade students from five of IUSD’s middle schools. Professionals from the IRWD have participated in the IUSD Career Conference for all 20 years of its existence.

“This is really how I dress for work,” Bergen explained to the group as she donned her white lab coat and safety glasses.

Using a student volunteer, she demonstrated the presence of chlorine in a sample of ordinary tap water. Then all of the students were able to test the PH of a water sample using strips of specialized PH paper. Students then compared the strip to a color scale to determine the PH level of the sample.

Moeder, a civil engineer, discussed the various engineering disciplines and explained the projects he is working on for the District, including the biosolids portion of the Michelson Water Recycling Plant expansion, which will turn sludge into pellets that can be used for fertilizer or heating. He passed around a sample bag of pellets, which resemble nuggets of coal.

Moeder gave two demonstrations – one on settlement and the other on liquefaction. Using two seemingly similar plates of sand, he placed equal amounts of weight on each one. One of the towers of weights slipped sideways, while the other stayed upright. The secret to this? A single sheet of toilet paper placed under the sand acted as a stabilizer and the weights did not slip. He then demonstrated how liquefaction can occur during an earthquake on unstable soil. Using a tube of sand and water, he placed a small house on top, along with a ruler simulating a pile. A student volunteer pushed a button to activate shaking within the tube. Water rose to the top and the house and ruler sunk.

Both Bergen and Moeder fielded student questions and discussed the education it took for them to achieve their career goals.

The goal of the IUSD conference is to increase student interest and awareness of science-related careers. In addition to IRWD, professionals from the careers of physics, medicine, medical research, food science, veterinary medicine, wildlife protection, ecology, dentistry, robotics, nursing and engineering participate.

IRWD has provided innovative student water education programs since the mid-1970s. These programs are available to students and teachers from kindergarten through college in any public, private or home school within our service area. For more information about IRWD education programs, please visit our website.

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