Tapwater Testing.... What's in it for Students?

Testing the water that comes into our homes, workplaces and schools is a big business, and for good reason! It is easy to take for granted the life sustaining properties of water.

The standard answer by students to "Where does your water come from?" is...... "From the faucet!". It is very fruitful in process thinking to walk them back through the faucets, into the wells, resevoirs, and up into the clouds.(see links to "Weather" for more)

In fact, understanding the water cycle, the solvent properties of water, mixtures, solutions, concentrations of additives (both natural and man-made) can be a big part of a multi-year integrated studies approach to science education.

€Tapwater Tour

The "Tapwater Tour" is a mini unit available from a variety of distributors.(create link) It is an easily managed introduction to water study, or can be inserted almost any time into work on introductory chemistry or environmental studies....or a health class for that matter!

At the end of about 8-10 class periods, students will have an introduction to pH, be able to test for and also observe evidence of copper, iron, chlorine, and minerals (hardness) in water. They will be able to explain how different chemical factors in tapwater can cause interactions with the pipes and other surfaces, which is a wonderful and important complement to their understandings of how air quality(acid rain) and groundwater contamination contribute to the quality of water supplies.

Other Resources and Extensions

In the following pages and links we'll post a variety of materials that can be easily adapted for use in classrooms 4-12. Some will be works-in-progress, others will be time tested lessons, labs, and reference materials. You'll also find templates for everything from field trip proposals, to boilerplate for grant applications.

The creation by students of a collaborative database of tapwater information, combined with river water studies, and information on public water supplies, can be used by students of many ages to work with high order problems concerning the science, and politics, of water in our county, state, and beyond.

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