Canadian Water Experiment
Inspired by the IUPAC’s Global Water Experiment for the International Year of Chemistry, the CIC will be continuing with a Canadian Water Experiment each year. Teachers are encouraged to have classrooms of all levels participate during National Chemistry Week or at any other convenient time of the year. The initiative aims to explore Earth’s most critical resource, water, while teaching students important fundamentals and applications of chemistry.
All activities were designed to use materials that were widely available at little to no cost in order to minimize expenditure and maximize participation across Canada.
Students will explore an alternative way of purifying water using a solar still, learning about the distillation process and the states of matter. The activity will provide students with the opportunity to design and build their own more efficient stills.
- The experiment has been tested with students across the different levels of schooling.
- The experiment addresses the important chemical concept of states of matter that is addressed at primary and both junior and senior secondary levels of schooling. The experiment can contribute to student’s learning about the global water cycle.
- Ancillary concepts include the important idea that many substances, both good and hazardous, can be present in water but not visible.
The salinity activity will give students the opportunity to use either a homemade or commercial meter to measure the conductivity of water samples. Students will learn about salts and determine concentrations of salts in solutions.
- The experiment will be developed based on versions that have been extensively used in Portugal, South Africa and Australia.
- Ionic compounds and their solubility form an important part of the curriculum in both junior and senior high school and the ideas are frequently applied to class environmental studies. Salts are commonly introduced in primary school as a class of substances without elaboration of their chemical nature.
- Ancillary activities to the salinity measurements will be provided to help teachers develop student’s understanding of the underlying chemical concepts.
No Dirt, No Germs
In the filtration activity students will use household materials to build a water filtration unit and identify the efficiency of different filtration materials. Then, as a follow up, they will carry out a treatment of the water.
- The experimental activities will include: identification and collection of natural surface water, construction of a rudimentary filtration device, addition of alum and disinfectant to water.
- Students will learn the chemical concepts of aeration, coagulation, sedimentation, disinfection and filtration.
Students will use colourful indicators to measure the pH of their local body of water. They will be learning about acidity, one of the most common chemical properties encountered around the home. At the same time they will be learning good experimental techniques to test the reliability of their results. Combining the results for the class will provide a robust result.
- The experiment has been developed and tested with both primary and secondary school classes. Results of suitable quality can be routinely achieved by students.
- The topics of acids and bases, and water quality are common in both upper primary and junior and senior high school.
- Students will replicate measurements and aggregate individual results to gain an appreciation of the scientific process of establishing the reliability of results
- Ancillary activities will encourage teachers to help students become familiar with acid-base concepts through measurement of the pH of household materials and exploring the stability of pH.
These experiments are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic License.