Written by Mike Martin
COLUMBIA, 3/9/12 (Beat Byte) -- Nasty, dirty, filthy pollution never tasted as good as it did during Mizzou Civil Engineering Day for Kids, a half-day, hands-on activity extravaganza hosted by the Mizzou Engineering American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students Feb. 25.
The tasty pollution was an "edible aquifer" students made to demonstrate environmental engineering, one of civil engineering's four branches. The other three branches are structural, transportation, and geotechnical engineering, all on display that day.
The edible pollution was an effective demonstration of the way motor oil, lubricants, fertilizers, and other ground-source pollutants seep through the soil and enter the water supply. In a classroom at Lafferre Hall, two Mizzou engineering students simulated this effect. In tall, clear plastic cups, they first added ice to simulate a layer of rocks.
Then vanilla ice cream to simulate clay soil. After that, 7-Up as a stand in for groundwater. Over the top of it all, they poured chocolate, caramel, and other syrups (motor oil and lubricants), then sprinkles (fertilizer granules). More 7-Up simulated a rainstorm and joila -- the kids watched as the oils and fertilizers gradually soaked through the soil, past the rocks, and into the groundwater.
The Mizzou group also provided lunch at a nominal cost, though dessert was served first. Mizzou Civil Engineering Day for Kids is definitely a "must do" for children interested in exploring a discipline that's always in demand.