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K-State Today

April 12, 2012

Water Investigation Lab Day at K-State Olathe's pond and labs is Urban Water Institute's first outreach program

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

More than 100 fourth- through sixth-grade students from the Shawnee Mission School District will be participating in a lab/field experience to learn more about the quality of water on the Kansas State University Olathe campus April 23 and 24.

"Water gives us an indication of the health of the planet -- human and animal health relies on this water," said Micheal Strohschein, director of K-12 science education partnerships at the Olathe campus. "Looking at the physical and biological indicators of healthy water gives us an insight into protecting species from becoming endangered or extinct -- the impacts are magnified in an urban setting because of extreme environmental degradation and population density."

This lab/field experience will be the Urban Water Institute's first outreach program to youth in the metro area. The institute advances and promotes public policy, water management approaches and innovative treatment technologies that support sustainable use of water.

With its strategic location on the Olathe campus, the Urban Water Institute can help connect the water industry in the Kansas City region with more than 50 water experts at Kansas State University's Manhattan campus.

"Water has been identified as one of the most critical resources of the 21st century," said Alok Bhandari, director of the Urban Water Institute and professor and head of the department of civil engineering at Kansas State University. "K-State's vision for the Urban Water Institute is to develop a premier center of knowledge and outreach focused on sustainable water management in urban and urbanizing environments, and Olathe is an ideal location."

High school mentors and adult volunteers will assist the students during the outdoor and indoor lab components for their field/lab experience, which is co-sponsored by One Health Kansas. Students will do water quality monitoring at the pond, and in the labs, they will identify macro invertebrates as biological indicators for the health of the water.

"The macro invertebrates are basically little bugs in the water that tell us the health of the water," said Joan Leavens, integration/outreach leader for One Health Kansas at Kansas State University. "They are indicator species that are sensitive, somewhat sensitive and tolerant of pollution. Seeing them is a good thing."


One Health Kansas promotes awareness and understanding of the interconnections among human, animal and environmental health throughout the state of Kansas.

Kansas State University Olathe advances the mission of Kansas State University by integrating education, research and entrepreneurship, focused on animal health, food safety and security to address the needs of a rapidly changing world.