Eco-Tech: DIY Solutions for Impaired Waterways Workshops

Imagine Grinnell is partnering with Drake Community Library, Poweshiek Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Grinnell College, and the Captain Planet Foundation to host a series of all-ages environmental programs. The Eco-Tech workshops will focus on water quality monitoring as a platform for learning about how technology can be used to improve our environment.

Participants will not only learn about Iowa’s impaired waterways, but they will learn how to monitor and improve water quality using a range of high-tech and low-tech DIY techniques. The programs will be basic enough for younger participants, but they are designed to be fun and challenging for anyone who is new to environmental science.


The workshops would be held in 4 parts from 9 am to 1 pm with a lunch break in-between. Lunch will be provided.

Saturday, October 29th – Water quality monitoring presentation and hands-on workshop led by Mindy Sieck from the Poweshiek County Soil and Water Conservation District

Saturday, November 5th – Bioreactor demonstration and hands-on bioreactor creation workshop led by Elizabeth Queathem and Chris Bair from Grinnell College

Saturday, November 12th – Electronics introductory course led by Craig Shore

Saturday, November 19th – Hands-on electronics and computer coding led by Craig Shore

If interested in either participating or volunteering in any of these workshops, please email


Additional Details:

There will be one workshop presentation on water quality monitoring teaching students how to perform water quality tests with disposable strips as well as reusable monitors. The next workshop will consist of demonstrating a bioreactor model and having students each work on their own bottle bioreactor, which will consist of wood chips, geofabric, and dirt. The final two workshops will involve designing and creating several different prototype low-cost monitors with students. Prototypes of each device will be made and tested beforehand before working with students. Depending on interest, an optional trip can be made testing sites with middle and high school students to test the accuracy of these homemade devices compared to traditional disposable nitrate/nitrite strip test from the HACH company as well as two purchased instruments from Hanna Instruments.


This workshop is made possible by the Captain Planet Foundation, a grant-making foundation that has funded over 2,000 hands-on environmental education projects with schools and non-profits that serve children in all 50 U.S. states and in 23 countries internationally. More than 1.2 million children have directly participated in and benefited from these educational projects. For more information, please visit


Additional support provided by Drake Community Library, Grinnell College, and Imagine Grinnell.