For most teenagers turning on a faucet and expecting clean water is as far as the thought process goes. However, after a recent project with the City of Great Bend, 73 Great Bend High School agriculture science students of Kevin Hoff now have knowledge that runs a bit deeper.
“This project started because one year ago we were approached by the City of Great Bend to see if we could help educate students about water-quality issues,” Hoff said. “The goal was to make students aware of what types of issues we face and how pollution and surface runoff can affect water quality.”
“We are always looking for ‘real-world’ problems for our students to work on as school projects,” said Superintendent Khris Thexton. “We have always had a good working relationship with the city and when our students have the opportunity to give back to their city, it gives them a sense of ownership with pride.”
“This was the first step in educating the students about the water quality that they have in their own homes,”
Hoff said. “The next step will be for students to take water samples from local ponds and look at what factors can affect the water quality in places like Vets Lake, Cheyenne Bottoms and Stone Lake.
Hoff said students were taught how to take and test water samples and record the data — all skills that fit into the ag science curriculum.
“In the first step of this project, students were asked to bring in water samples from their homes,” he said.
“These samples were tested for a variety of factors such as PH levels, chlorine, iron, copper and water hardness. We talked about how each of these factors can affect water quality and how they affect water lines in homes.
“The outcome was that students had a lot of differences with the tap water from their homes,” Hoff explained.
“Students were able to see differences in their water as compared to other students who brought in well water.
“Students were very interested to see what results they would get from the water out of their home faucets,” he said. “They learned how these different variables can affect how their water tastes and how it can stain sinks or corrode water lines or affect water hardness.
“I don’t think the city is planning on doing anything with the information,” he said. “They just asked for our help in educating the public.
“Many of these students will go home and talk to their parents about water-quality issues. The city’s goal is to change the public’s perception on water quality issues here in Great Bend and educate the public on how they can help with these issues.”
This wasn’t the first time his students worked with the city. Hoff said they collaborated on a project last year in which ag science and welding students helped the Brit Spaugh Zoo cut out some of the old bison pens in preparation for the new bear exhibit. At that time school and city officials started brainstorming other ways that students could get involved with helping the city.
That session included Howard Partington, Scott Keeler, Christina Hayes and Charlie Suchy from the city and Travis Straub, Jake Hofflinger, Matt Mazouch, Randy Wetzel and Khris Thexton from USD 428.