PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Water@School - enganging young students in a research project

Sarah Duit  

Water@School is a combined research and science communication project focussing on water safety. Specifically, it addresses the issues associated with seasonal water use in buildings - in this case a school building - by assessment of water quality and usage. In a comprehensive approach, researchers, students and teachers of a partner school, and science communicators join forces to investigate this topic in multiple ways. Next to the scientific outcome, a major aim of this project is to allow students insight into scientific practice and management of a research project and strengthen their solution competence for issues of social and natural sciences and interdisciplinary tasks. The drinking water supply of the school building is analyzed by assessment of the pipe network and relevant chemical and microbiological parameters in a sampling campaign. Additionally, data concerning consumer behavior and level of knowledge about the subject are collected by questionnaire based surveys. At the end of the project (September 2016), all results are compiled in a Water Safety Plan for the investigated building. Students are decisively involved in all project phases. They collaborate in questionnaire development and spreading, examine the school pipeline network and taps, participate in the sampling and chemical analysis, and present their findings during informational events. As a foundation and aid for these project related tasks, students acquire knowledge by means of lectures, workshops, and laboratory practice tailored to their interests and questions. Experience from this collaboration shows that in young citizen science settings, science communication specialists familiar with both contexts, science and school, can positively contribute to project course and impact. Researchers, teachers and students can greatly benefit from a concomitant mediatory framework facilitating exchange and stimulating discussion. The crucial cornerstones for successful integration of such communication efforts in ongoing research projects are a topic worth investigating within the community.

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