water: the clean and the dirty

It was a day of mixed reviews and two very different environments. The older kids visited the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Plant on the west side of the city and the younger kids traveled down the Peninsula to the Pulgas Water Temple in Redwood City.

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While the older kids learned about the cycle of wastewater in San Francisco…

Wastewater Treatment Plant

…the younger kids enjoyed the sun and the green of Redwood City.

Pulgas Water Temple

They examined objects in jars…

Wastewater Treatment Plant

…and the glassy green of algae in the pond.

Pulgas Water Temple

Both groups waited patiently for exciting things to think about.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Pulgas Water Temple

And talked about the wildlife of both habitats: fish at the treatment plant…

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Wastewater Treatment Plant

…and a game of vole, kite, and Cooper’s hawk.

Pulgas Water Temple

Pulgas Water Temple

Pulgas Water Temple

Pulgas Water Temple

There was a break and preparation for the next activity, including hair nets and helmets…

Wastewater Treatment Plant

…and a group discussion.

Pulgas Water Temple

In-the-field experts helped make things clearer.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Pulgas Water Temple

I think it’s safe to say that the smells on both trips were rather different.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Pulgas Water Temple

Pulgas Water Temple

The older kids vehemently proclaimed the wastewater treatment plant as a let’s-never-do-that-again. Henry wrote in his journal, “Today’s field trip was the epitome of all greed and evil. To start the list of horrors that dared to call itself fun was the stench. It smelled like a mixture of poop and sewage….Oh boy, touring through a smelly hole labeled ‘solid waste,’ where any common person with common sense wouldn’t have opened the door…” To be fair, though, they were interested in the treatment process and the steps that wastewater must take to be cleaned and sent back to the ocean clean. Ben was stunned that the whole system is based on gravity’s pull. Zada had never appreciated clean air so much.

The younger kids determined that the vole, kite, and Cooper’s hawk game to be their favorite, and also delighted in telling each other scary stories about murderous dolls and ghosts. They also liked being able to talk to the great Tim, an expert they met by chance at the water temple because he was taking out the trash. And it all comes full circle.