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ChemClub measures acidity for international project ChemClub measures acidity for international project

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The Auburndale High School ChemClub recently put the school on the map.

In celebration of the 100th anniversaries of the International Association of Chemical Societies and Marie Curie's Nobel Prize, the club participated in the International Year of Chemistry Global Water Experiment Map.

The map is a world-wide project designed to provide students a global perspective and appreciation of the link between safe water and chemistry.

Chemistry teacher Carla Savage and her ChemClub students measured acidity - represented by a pH number - of Lake Ariana and city drinking water, computed an average pH figure, and posted the result to the IYC global water map athttp://water.chemistry2011.org.

Organizers hope this will become the world's biggest chemistry experiment as students, scouts and community groups from different countries study their local water sources and post the data to the interactive, global map.

"The goal of the Global Water Map Project is to involve students in an endeavor that reaches international proportions. By submitting their data point for Auburndale, they not only see the process of science in action, they see thousands of other people around the world working towards a common goal," said Savage, who organized the school's ChemClub in 2009. "I hope that my students realize that even a small contribution, like one data point, can make a big difference when everyone jumps in."

To also give students an understanding of how clean, safe water ends up in their homes, Don Wilson, Auburndale's lead operator of the water utilities department, spoke to students about how the city treats the water from seven deep wells and provides it to residents.

"The most interesting thing is how much water Auburndale goes through and part of that is due to the Coca-Cola factory," said Adam Mathieu, a 17-year old senior who was surprised to learn city water customers use between 1.4 billion and 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water per year.

Junior Nicolas DelCastillo found both collecting samples and Wilson's presentation interesting.

"I learned about what a water management does and how complicated it is to get water from the well to the house in a safe manner," he said.

Ricardo Trejo, 17, inadvertently supplied a lesson in the acidity of soda.

"I kinda wondered about the well water. I always wondered if it was alright because it smelled funny," Trejo said.

So he collected some water in a Mountain Dew bottle and carried it to school to be tested the next day.

"It was higher in pH than should have been. It actually taught everyone the difference in acidity between soda and water," said Savage, adding that Trejo hadn't completely washed the soda out of the bottle.

The next day, he brought in water in a clean bottle. It tested fine.

And Trejo stopped worrying about the water.

"I learned that sulfur made it good water," he said. "I learned about water and things they do in chemistry related to the environment."

The club will participate in three other Global Experiment activities this year. Students will examine salinity, the proportion of salt in water; water filtration; and solar distillation.

"I feel excited because not that many people get involved in projects like these," Trejo said. "It sort of opens your eyes to how water is treated and how it is used."

Savage said participating in the Global Experiment builds a strong foundation for later study of science.

"If I can pique a student's interest in chemistry through something as simple as testing water pH, it might open the student's mind to learn more about how chemistry affects our everyday lives," she said. "Maybe, it could even lead to a student pursuing a career in the STEM - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - field."

"Chemistry really is the 'central science', and it can be studied in practically every setting. Water is a perfect topic. Not only is it fascinating on a chemical level, it precedes every living thing," Savage added.

The club will complete the Global Experiment activities by March 31.

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