The Importance of Water Quality
We all know that clean drinking water is critical for health and survival. About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is made up of water, making it one of the most abundant substances available. Our bodies are also comprised of nearly 70 percent water. Despite its importance, water quality varies greatly depending on a wide variety of factors including landscape, weather, temperature, and human impacts.
Water Testing Projects for Children
Testing water quality is a simple and easy way to help children understand the importance of environmental responsibility. Students learn that water quality cannot be determined simply by looking at cloudy versus clear water. Many of the contaminants that can be found in municipal, private, and bottled water source are both colorless and odorless.
This type of project is a great way to engage students in collecting data and contributing to science at a local and global level. It helps them to learn about the factors that impact water quality not just for our sakes, but also the delicate ecosystems that thrive in our lakes, oceans and other bodies of water.
You don’t need any scientific experience to perform water quality tests at home or in the classroom. Most test kits are easy to use and encourage students to learn about water quality while testing various samples against each other. The tests allow them to analyze and compare the differences among a number of water sources, including bottled, well, rain, puddle, and lake water.
Water experiment kits can be used in homeschool education, science fairs, or family projects with children of all ages through high school students. Standard tests are performed with safe, easy-to-use test strips and do not require any hazardous chemicals or scientific glassware. Simply dip a test strip into the water sample and then compare it to the included color chart to determine the results.
Most testing kits contain multiple sets of test strips that can be used to compare the results of a variety of liquids besides water, such as sodas, juices, and other beverages. Budding scientists get quick results delivered on the spot, so they can accurately determine and record contamination levels in their results notebooks. Test results produce scientific data that can be incorporated into displays, graphs, and reports for science projects.
Advanced Water Testing Projects
Middle school students will enjoy learning about pH by testing different water sources and a variety of liquids. Tests can be performed using standard pH test strips or an electronic pH meter. Either method allows students to quickly and easily test the acidity and alkalinity of any liquid. Learning about pH is a basic scientific concept that relates to the number of hydrogen atoms a liquid releases or receives.
More advanced students can perform Secchi disk tests to measure water clarity. Measurements are taken by lowering the Secchi disk until it can no longer be seen. This depth is measured to provide an indication of the health of the water. Because light can penetrate deeper in clear water, the further the disk sinks, the higher the Secchi depth, which indicates clearer waters. The presence of high concentrations of algae and particulate in the water decrease visibility, in turn, decreasing the Secchi depth measurement, indicating turbid water.
Fun and Educational for All Ages
No matter what age, from youngsters to adults, water testing can be a fun and educational project. Whether you’re testing pH levels of water from various sources or contaminants in fresh versus boiled water, you’re bound to find some interesting results.