"Use of laboratory-scale wastewater treatment plants for undergraduate research, teaching and learning"

Fitzgerald, William and Rudden, Lil (2011) "Use of laboratory-scale wastewater treatment plants for undergraduate research, teaching and learning". [Conference Proceedings]


As part of an undergraduate programme in Environmental Science, students undertake modules relating to Wastewater Treatment as well as Environmental Analysis. Traditional teaching methods generally involve conducting each analytical method on one or two occasions, with samples either made up or sourced by technical support staff. Site visits to full-scale treatment systems help students visualise the issues involved in the design and operation of real systems but detailed on-site investigations are not possible or practical for many reasons (i.e. class size, costs, health and safety issues, access etc.)This study involves the establishment of teams of students repsonsible for the maintenance, operation and monitoring of bench-scale activated sludge wastewater treatment plants on a continuous basis over an academic semester. The students work in teams of four per bench-scale unit and conduct a series of analyses on at least four occasions over a two-week period. Students then rotate between duties until they have each completed the entire range of maintenance and analytical tasks. The analytical data generated over the duration of the trial is used to monitor the performance of the units. It enables students to collate the data in tabular and graphical form, and carry out statistical analyses. In addition, students are able to identify and explain the important inter-relationships between numerous factors relating to the design and operation of wastewater treatment systems which cannot be achieved using existing teaching methods. The students upload the monitoring results onto a website, as they become available, which is accessible by students from other courses including distance learners.Responses from the students and staff involved in this project were very positive and this has lead to implementing changes to the curriculum whereby a Project module has been removed and the learning outcomes integrated into the Wastewater Treatment module.This project has potential for transfer to similar programmes in other Institutions.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 4th Annual Conference (Cork) 2010 Flexible Learning Conference Proceedings_sm.pdf]
NAIRTL 4th Annual Conference (Cork) 2010 Flexible Learning Conference Proceedings_sm.pdf

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