Monday, September 27, 2021
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Mobile exhibit brings global water crisis to Edina


Capri Loegering is home schooling her three kids for the first time this year, and while searching for fun and educational opportunities she came across a new 25,000-square-foot traveling exhibit in Edina all about the worldwide water crisis.

So the 33-year-old mother from Sartell decided to take the kids on a field trip to Southdale Center, where she said the free learning experience was a great way to kick off back-to-school week.

“Holy cow, I learned a lot,” she said as her kids poured water into an interactive display on water filtration.

The Mobile Discovery Center was developed by the Charleston, S.C.-based nonprofit Global Water Center, which is driving a movement to educate and inspire people to provide access to safe water for the 2.2 billion people — one-third of the world’s population — who don’t have it now.

Lack of safe drinking water kills 2,300 people per day, and Chris Holdorf, the center’s executive director, said they want to drop that number to zero.

“Here we are in 2021, we have the technology and the know-how to get safe water anywhere in the world. And yet 2.2 billion people don’t have access,” Holdorf said.

“What’s really sad is 20 years ago, that number was 1.1 billion. We live in a country that has access to abundant safe water. But in the last 20 years, the problem has doubled.”

The exhibit, which opened Wednesday in Edina, invites visitors to walk through three rooms full of immersive technology, like augmented reality and motion sensor screens. They can activate a wristband in each room to personalize the tour, with a storyteller from Tanzania, Haiti, Mexico or Indonesia offering a glimpse of daily life and the lengths their people must go to get water, including walking for hours and missing school. Even then, it’s often not clean.

The mobile classroom instructs visitors about clean water solutions in testing, treatment and sanitation, while quizzing them with Jeopardy-like games and hands-on water activities.

Holdorf said the exhibit takes about 45 to 60 minutes to walk through, before reaching a 360-degree domed screen to watch a short film on the Global Water Center — a collection of nonprofits and companies united by what Holdorf calls the “safe water world.” It combines efforts to provide underdeveloped communities the technology to create and sustain safe drinking water.

Two Twin Cities-based water treatment and testing companies, Pentair and Pace Analytical, are sponsors of the Mobile Discovery Center. For the past six years, the companies have hosted a Walk for Water to raise awareness of the global water crisis. This year’s event, to be held Sept. 25 at Upper Landing Park in St. Paul, looks to raise $150,000 to fund safe water projects.

Edina is the seventh stop on this year’s nationwide Mobile Discovery Center tour, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, in the parking area across from P.F. Chang’s. Masks are encouraged.

Kim Hyatt • 612-673-4751

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