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Water Treatment Plant Hosts STEM Tour

NEWTON, NC (April 13, 2017)—Maiden Middle School students got a first-hand look at how clean water is delivered to homes during an Education Matters Extreme STEM Tour at the Newton Water Treatment Plant on April 7.

STEM is an acronym referring to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM educational programs prepare and encourage students to study in those fields. The tour, which was arranged through a partnership between Catawba Valley Community College, Maiden Middle School, and the city of Newton, was aimed at educating students about jobs that will be available to them in the future. Students learned how biology, chemistry, math, and mechanics have applications in their future endeavors.

After a welcome and introductions, the 84 students were divided into groups and visited various stations set up throughout the Newton Water Treatment Plant. The stations highlighted topics including engineering, physics, hydraulics, day-to-day plant operations, and laboratory tests. Students learned about current and future job opportunities, required training, and salary scales.

“It’s one thing to learn in a classroom about what it takes to deliver the purest water possible to thousands of citizens, but it’s something else entirely when you can actually see the process in person,” said Dusty Wentz, Newton Public Works and Utilities Department director. “We’re happy to have this bright group of students learning about the work we do here.”

The Maiden 8th graders also got to tour the Manufacturing Solutions Center, Catawba County Emergency Medical Services, Recycling Equipment, Inc., ZF, and the Hickory Crawdads. In addition to the business tours the 8th graders visited Catawba Valley Community College, where they toured curriculum programs that related to the STEM careers that they learned about. They also participated in a Lunch & Learn at Conover Station with presentations from the NC Center for Engineering Technologies, Duke Energy, NC Works Career Center, and the CVCC Mechatronics and Engineering program.

“The Newton Water Treatment Plant represents environmental STEM careers and ties directly in with 8th grade curriculum,” explained Tracy Hall, director of Education Matters. “It is wonderful when the students can see real world applications and their teachers can reference the things that they learned and saw during the tour in the classroom. The staff at the water plant were able to share how they use math, chemistry, science, and technology in their jobs and then encouraged the students to take higher levels of these subjects when they get to high school if they want to work in this industry in the future.” 

The Education Matters Extreme STEM Tour is now in its sixth year. Over 10,000 eight-grade students have participated in this experience.

An initiative of Catawba Valley Community College, Education Matters develops partnerships with local school districts, the community college, four-year institutions, government agencies, and business and industry to provide a comprehensive community-based approach to education and career awareness. Education Matters works with partners to increase the value of education and educational attainment by helping students understand the importance of earning a high school diploma, plus the postsecondary education and training necessary to secure employment in our community.

For more information or to become an Education Matters partner contact Tracy Hall at 828-327-7000, ext. 4851, or at thall@cvcc.edu.

Water Treatment Plant tour

Pictured above, Newton Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Glenn Bach (left) explains the plant’s operations to a group of students from Maiden Middle School during a recent Education Matters Extreme STEM Tour.