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World’s Largest Chemistry Experiment Underway

For the remainder of 2011 students across the globe can participate in what some are calling the world’s largest chemistry experiment.

Launched last month as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Chemistry celebration, “Water: A Chemical Solution” asks students to test their local drinking water sources, as well as local lakes, rivers, streams and other bodies of water, and post their analysis to a global Internet data map.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) announced it will help support teachers and students who wish to participate in the experiment, by sending volunteers to classrooms that need assistance.

“Students learn chemistry best when it directly applies to their lives,” said ACS President, Nancy B. Jackson, Ph.D. “And the most basic chemical solution is water. But don’t let that fool you. Water resource quality opens complex and diverse issues. The global experiment is an important science education initiative.”

The experiment remains open until December 31, 2011. Teachers, students and families can register to participate, view the experiments and enter their results at: http://water.chemistry2011.org. The activities are suitable for students of all ages from kindergarten to high school, and require materials commonly found in most science classrooms.

Students will conduct four tests to analyze their water resources for characteristics critical to providing clean drinking water and will learn essential water chemistry practices. They will test the acidity and salinity of their water, and perform simple water treatment and desalinization procedures.

Experts agree that clean drinking water is one the most important resources for human health and survival. The most abundant substance on the Earth’s surface, water covers about 70 percent of the planet’s surface. It also constitutes about 70 percent of the human body. Important as it is, water quality varies greatly from community to community for a wide variety of reasons including landscape, weather, temperature and human impacts.

Organizers of the experiment expect that a global comparison of water resources will open important discussions and insights into a precious natural resource and how people in different environments use various methods to provide clean, safe drinking water. 

Other U.S. organizations helping to coordinate the global experiment include the American Chemical Council (ACC) and the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition to the global water experiment, a wide range of celebrations, science conferences, school projects and community events worldwide are planned for International Year of Chemistry 2011, which seeks to heighten public awareness of chemistry.


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