Validation of Student Generated Data for Assessment of Groundwater Quality
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As part of a research project to evaluate the effects of sand and gravel mining on water quality, students were trained to analyze their own drinking water for simple quality indicators. Indicators analyzed were pH, conductivity, hardness, nitrate, chloride, and dissolved iron. Approximately 523 analyses were completed by students between 2006 and 2010. A total of 208 sample splits were analyzed in a laboratory to evaluate student accuracy and precision for pH, hardness, chloride, and nitrate. Overall students produced very good quality data for pH and conductivity. Hardness, chloride, and nitrate, all of which were quantified using titrations, were less precise and accurate than laboratory samples. The student results overall were useful with the limits of method uncertainties. As an experiment to teach students about water quality the results are very good. Validation of results for use in additional research indicates that additional quality control or new methods will be needed to improve the accuracy of student analyses.
KeywordsWater quality Student scientist Drinking water analysis
Project GET WET! would not exist if not for the support of Carol Korty and Bob Pulver, two dedicated citizens who believe in the importance of education and understanding our environment. This project could not have happened without the express support of parents, students, teachers, and administrators in Ellsworth, Lamoine, and Winterport. We especially want to thank Tim Barlow, Andrea Beardsley, Marty Dayton, Cindy Eaton, Cindy Morin, and Val Perkins. Tremendous support was provided by the Lamoine Conservation Commission and the Cove Brook Watershed Association. This project was supported in part by the Maine Water Resources Research Institute under grant 06HQGR0089. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Government.
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