Posted on behalf of Charles Michael Drain, chemistry professor at Hunter Collegeof the City University of New York
As part of the celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, graduate student Jacopo Samson from Hunter College of the City University of New York and I participated in the “pH of the Planet” experiment with over 250 seventh grade students from Readington Middle School in Hunterdon County, N. J.
During the last week of April, the students brought in water samples from wells, lakes, rivers, and streams. After viewing a National Geographic video about water on YouTube and discussing the properties of water, students worked in pairs to observe the turbidity and use indicators to determine the pH of 3-4 samples. Seventh grade science teachers Gerry Slattery and Chip Shepherd helped plan the experiment and worked with students when they had questions. A couple of students then tabulated the data and determined the average for each water source. Both the students and I were impressed that their averages matched well with what we determined using a calibrated pH electrode. The tabulated data is being uploaded to a database along with pH values of local water sources determined by students from every part of the planet.
“I didn’t realize how many people don’t have access to clean water and how important pH is,” seventh grader Zach said.
Drain helps prepare the experiment in his son Neel's classroom