SAC Takes Part in Confluence, an Educational Conference on Water

February 16, 2018

Russell Guerrero

On a recent cold and damp morning, more than 900 high school students from across San Antonio gathered at the Witte Museum for a bright and lively exchange of ideas on water. They were brought together to attend the 7 th Annual Confluence Summit, organized by the San Antonio Water System.

The summit attracted students deeply interested in water management. The students, from both public and private schools, have been working mainly outside of classtime to conduct water-based research, such as designing drip irrigation systems or testing samples from the Edwards Aquifer, San Antonio's main source of water.

The Confluence Summit is not a competition but rather an opportunity for students to share their research and offer each other suggestions and advice.

Lynn Christopher, education coordinator for SAW, said Confluence is a capstone event for the high school students. "We wanted the summit to have professional atmosphere," she explained, adding that it is a deliberate attempt to nurture the students to become water literate.

"It's important because they will be the decision makers of the future," she said.

Along with exhibitions from local schools, several organizations were also present, including the San Antonio River Authority and the San Antonio Zoo.

San Antonio College also participated in the summit with several exhibitions. SAC was one of three higher education institutions that took part, along with Northwest Vista College and Texas A&M San Antonio.

The William R. Sinkin Eco Centro partnered with SAC students to display hydroponic equipment that can be used to grow agriculture in an interior space. The items included the Farm Bot, a device with a mechanical arm that could be programed to seed and water individual plants; a scaled down hydroponic system that used specific hues from the color spectrum to grow plants more efficiently; and an atmospheric water generator, which can take humidity from the air and convert it into drinking water.

The SAC MESA Center showed how water played a part in an alternative fuel source for cars. Students Isaac Medina and Alishan Charolia, both members of the SAC Motorsport Team, supplied information on how a hydrogen fuel cell could power a vehicle. As hydrogen gas travels into the fuel cell and comes into contact with air, the reaction produces water vapor, a non-polluting emission.  

The Scobee Education Center gave a more far reaching presentation on the future of water by bringing an exhibit on Mars. Students could take part in a scavenger hunt to locate geological features on a large map placed on the floor or they could wear virtual reality googles to get an immersive view of the planet.

Celina Torrones, academic program specialist at the Scobee Education Center, said they wanted to show students that the need to find water on Mars will be an important component when space exploration brings humans to another planet.

At the end of the conference, the students were invited to visit the rest of the Witte Museum and explore exhibits on the history of San Antonio and parts of South and Central Texas   

Photo: San Antonio College Student Melissa Garcia describes how a device called  Farm Bot can be used for hydroponic gardening in an interior space. Photo by Leonard Ziegler.