Science fair winners from throughout Cook County were honored at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s (MWRD) “A Celebration of STEM” event designed to encourage environmental sciences education and equip students with an understanding of the MWRD’s critical work.
New this year, the MWRD’s annual science fair turned to the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, where students displayed their engaging work to MWRD commissioners, scientists and staff and garnered feedback, and support. Following a small expo of the students’ work, the MWRD provided a lesson of its own by providing a guided tour of facilities and labs and presentations by commissioners and staff.
“We congratulate the students on their award-winning research and hope during this learning process they have gained a greater interest in environmental sciences and ecology, as well as a better understanding of their water environment,” said MWRD President Kari K. Steele.
“A Celebration of STEM” honored students, ranging in grades seven through twelve, who participated in the annual Chicago Public or Non-Public Schools science fairs held in March at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Museum of Science and Industry. The MWRD selected the 50 winning students based on their research in the categories of Environmental Science and Ecology.
“We are always happy to welcome and engage with talented students interested in STEM education, because it’s these future leaders who will be responsible for protecting the next generation’s important water resources,” said MWRD Chairman of Finance Frank Avila. “Based on our interactions today, our future is clearly in capable hands.”
The students and their guests attended a STEM career presentation by MWRD Principal Environmental Scientist Dr. Geeta Rijal, who discussed her role and her journey to becoming an expert in the field of microbiology. The students were then given a unique tour bringing them face to face with the people and operations working behind the scenes and at the forefront of wastewater treatment to protect the region’s water supply source, Lake Michigan, and the health of the residents, visitors and environment in Cook County.
“We commend these students, as well as the teachers and parents who have supported them,” said Commissioner Debra Shore. “The research that they have done is remarkable, and it bodes well for the future, not just their individual futures as scholars, but our future as a society.”
The MWRD has participated in the Chicago Public and Non-Public Schools’ annual science fairs as a “Special Judge” for more than 20 years.