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Water Quality Training – A Place in Our Children’s Education?

Legendary TV personality Art Linkletter was famous for his catch phrase “Kids say the darndest things.” As most any parent will confirm, truer words have never been spoken. For my part, the things that come out of my kids’ mouths do frequently amaze me, as evidenced by some of the quips from my awesome daughter Georgia, which I’ve shared here and elsewhere.

One of her witticisms directly applies to my adventures in water quality management. Georgia recently delivered a presentation at her school’s science fair where she gave a remarkably detailed description of how water chemistry works in a swimming pool. Being an 11-year-old who does her own thinking, and much to my surprise, she put her presentation and speech together without my direct help. It was obvious she’s been paying attention as she was well versed on chlorine chemistry basics as well as ozone and UV technology.

Naturally, I was beaming with pride and wasn’t the least bit surprised when she was rewarded with a 100-percent grade for the assignment. But my daughter being who she is took it another step further when she shared the following observation:

“SRK HydroZone 3® is like a pyramid,” she said. “Ozone and UV are on the bottom and support chlorine at the top.”

I must admit that really blew my mind. I’ve been searching for the best way to explain our HydroZone 3 system, and I think she nailed it. It is, indeed, very much like a pyramid. Ozone and UV form the base of the “structure” and do the vast majority of the work. Free available chlorine is the very tip of the structure and is there to kill any bacteria and oxidize any organic compounds that bathers introduce but that the ozone and UV have not yet treated.

In other words, all three work together to form a three-pronged treatment system that is remarkably strong and synergistic precisely because the three treatment components all support each other. Representing those relationships in the form of a pyramid is the perfect way to visually express the power and durability of the system.

The fact that such a keen observation came from a 10-year-old really is the darndest thing.

Or is it?

Future Ambassadors?

Georgia’s presentation also prompted me to think differently about kids and their potential for understanding. Specifically, I’ve come to firmly believe that as adults, we underestimate the potential children have for understanding complex ideas.

I don’t mean to say that every child will glom on to chemistry the way that my daughter has, but by the same token, I think it’s unwise to simply assume that something like understanding water chemistry and water quality is beyond their mental capacity or potential level of interest.

For one thing, they are the ones who so often are directly impacted by water quality management both the good and, unfortunately, sometimes the bad. After all, it was my kids who suffered pulmonary problems when they were exposed to improperly treated water, not me, and they are the ones who will ultimately decide whether or not they want to continue participating in aquatic activities. It’s a safe bet that whether or not they remain swimmers and, perhaps, even someday own a pool of their own is in fact being determined by the experiences they have as children — and the understanding that stems from those experiences.

That’s why I believe we should open up the dialogue with children about the importance of water as a resource, how they can take part in protecting it, and how they benefit from water quality management. What better way than by the immediate example of a swimming pool where they experience, in the most personal way possible, the value of quality water?

I realize this might be somewhat of a radical idea, but so is a child my daughter’s age explaining how the chlorine smell is caused by chloramines and not chlorine. That’s why I think schools should take students on field trips to water treatment facilities and expose them to the technology and infrastructure needed to provide safe tap water and the removal and treatment of wastewater. And as part of that basic education, they should be taught the basics of water chemistry in a swimming pool and how it impacts their experience.

My hunch is we’d very surprised by how some of them respond.

the Water Geek


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A blog about all things water, written by SRK's founder Steve Kenny.