Countin' on the Water Fountain
Story By: Andie Kim, Alice Lee, and Jenny Park Editor: Jenny Oh Web Designer: Claire Kim
Recently on March 14, 2016, an email was sent by three 7th graders from the 20 Time Group ,“a project in communication class, where we work together in order to accomplish a goal,” said Eddie Cho, a member of the group. They notified all middle school students that the water from the water fountain had a pH level of 6. The purpose of this email was to raise money for their project to clean the water fountain. Nevertheless, it was rather a big shock to the students that they have been drinking “unhygienic” water.
To verify their claim, we tested the pH levels of the water ourselves. With Ms. Renwick’s help, we obtained pH strips to conduct our experiment. A pH strip is a piece of paper coated with a thin layer of chemicals that indicates the pH level with a change of color when dipped in liquid. By matching the changed color with the color chart, we could indicate the approximate pH level of the tested solution.
PH stands for “potential hydrogen,” the measurement of whether a solution is acidic or alkaline. The pH levels range from 1 to 14; pH 7 being neutral (water), and levels lower than pH 7 being acidic.
We dipped the pH strips into running water from the fountains located in 5th, 6th, and 7th floors, then smeared them on a blank sheet of paper to observe the color. Surprisingly, the color of the pH strips indicated that the pH level of the water was actually 7, the normal standard for water. Confused by the results from our experiment that contradicted their claim, we scheduled an interview with Jay Kim, Riley Kim, and Eddie Choe, the founders of the fundraiser.
When we asked the three 7th grade students about their email, they stated that they based their claim on the data collected and presented by Ms. Atanaskovic’s advisory group. After interviewing Elaine Choi, a member of Ms. Atanaskovic’s advisory, we found out that they had conducted the experiment inaccurately; they had collected the water from the fountain in a plastic cup and dipped the pH strips into the collected water, not running water. Moreover, they observed the color of the strip itself, not the streak shown on a blank paper. Therefore, their test was not done accurately, because the water fountains in our school are clean and safe for students to drink.