Backyard chemistry experiments

Activity one: pH

Objective
Test the pH of various water samples, such as pool water, tap water, bottled water, pond water, fish tank water.

Material
Pool kit capable of testing pH and various water samples.

Procedure
Fill test vial to appropriate level with water sample. Add five drops of pH solution to test vial. Place cover over test vial and invert several times to mix. Compare the color of the water sample to the test kit color standards.

Discussion points
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. pH is important to water quality because extreme pH values are hazardous to plants and wildlife. In a lake or pond, the water's pH is affected by many factors, including pollution from nearby communities and industries.

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Activity two: Chlorine

Objective
Test the chlorine levels of various water samples, such as pool water, tap water, bottled water, pond water, fish tank water. (NOTE: You may wish to prepare a solution of one tablespoon bleach to one quart water. This will be very high in chlorine and produce a striking color reaction.)

Material
Pool kit capable of testing for chlorine and various water samples.

Procedure
Fill test vial to appropriate level with water sample. Follow test kit instructions to measure chlorine. Compare the color of the water sample to the test kit color standards.

Discussion points
Chlorine is used as a disinfectant to purify drinking water and as a disinfectant in wastewater treatment plants and swimming pools. It is widely used as a bleaching agent in many textile factories and paper mills and is an important ingredient in many laundry bleaches. However, chlorine is toxic to fish and aquatic organisms and, in high concentrations, can be toxic to humans, as well.

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