Mayborn to host water quality testing event for museum-goers

The orange sky stands out as the sun sets over the Brazos River in Waco. Brittney Matthews | Multimedia Journalist

By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer

Scientists from the Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research will be a part of a Meet the Scientists Event at 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Mayborn Museum Complex in order to test the water quality of the Brazos River.

“CRASR has been coming over once a month this entire academic year to do water quality testing, and so we’re inviting people to come along and help them do that water quality testing,” Rebecca Nall, Mayborn’s Assistant Director of Communications, said.

Involved in a type of “citizen science,” the Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research, or CRASR, is a part of this event each month at the Mayborn. Museum guests are able to participate in the collection of a water sample from the Brazos River, which is then observed for clarity, color, salt content and more.

“Meet the Scientist is a time for the public to come in and have casual and formal conversations with people who are doing real science so they kind of know what a scientist looks like, and a scientist looks like them – they’re not like superhuman, they’re just everyday people,” Sarah Miller, Mayborn volunteer engagement coordinator, said. “They can ask them questions, talk to them about careers, their research and it’s really fun.”

Visitors will meet in the Mayborn Historic Village at 1 p.m. and will then walk along the Brazos River in order to collect the water sample alongside CRASR. That sample is then put into Texas Stream Team statewide database and the EarthEcho Water Challenge international database in order to compare the water quality to other water bodies.

“They are working with our museum guests to make observations, so first of all, what do you notice about the river? Is there a lot of algae growth?” Miller said. “Is there any litter floating around in the river? Is the water moving very fast, is it moving slowly? So taking general field observations like that and then they’re doing a little bit more science.”

Many families have attended this event more than once and are able to connect what they learn during the meet the scientist event to the exhibits inside the museum while learning about local water quality and the impact it may have on the local environment.

“Water is a very important resource and in particular, the Brazos River is important because there’s a lot of activities that take place in the Brazos River,” Nall said. “We also kind of want to know about the water quality and the ecology in the area.”

This event is included with the regular price of admission for museum visitors while museum members and Baylor students receive free admission.