The Canadian Water Experiment is inspired by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC)’s Global Water Experiment which took place worldwide in 2011 during the International Year of Chemistry. The initiative aims to explore water, Earth’s most critical resource, while teaching students important fundamentals and applications of chemistry. Teachers are encouraged to have classrooms of all levels participate in the experiments. Although the experiments are promoted as a National Chemistry Week activity, you are welcome to participate at any time of the year. All activities are designed to use materials that are widely available at little to no cost in order to minimize expenditure and maximize participation across Canada.
The Canadian Water Experiment consists of four different activities. They are:
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 addresses the important chemical concept of states of matter that is taught at primary and both junior and senior secondary levels of schooling. The experiment can also contribute to students 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. Ionic compounds and their solubility form an important part of the curriculum in both junior and senior high school. Salts are commonly introduced in primary school as a class of substances without elaboration of their chemical nature. Ancillary activities to the salinity measurements are provided to help teachers develop students’ understanding of the underlying chemical concepts.
In this 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 indicators to measure the pH of a local body of water. They will learn 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 class’s results will provide a robust result. 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.
These experiments are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic License.