Page 22 - The Hoot April, 2013

By Danielle Propst
Managing Editor
When you think of tap water, often only one word
comes to mind: “disgusting.”
Many people on the William Woods University
campus, as well as in the Fulton community,
share the belief that Fulton water is not healthy
and has a bad taste.
Last semester, Dr. Joe Kyger, assistant professor
of chemistry, along with his general chemistry
class, went out into the community in hopes of
discovering the truth.
The idea originated when Kyger realized the
student body, as well as the faculty and staff, had
a notion that Fulton water was not safe to drink.
He once shared that belief.
Last semester Kyger was looking for a
challenging and significant experience for his
general chemistry students that met all the
requirements for a valid project-based
learning activity.
The activity must be student-driven, it must
mirror traditional learning goals for the course,
and critically, the students must buy into the
project. The instructor becomes the facilitator;
the class gets the job done.”
As part of a project-based learning activity,
students went out into the community to find
out where this notion came from. Project-based
learning draws on the traditional coursework but
introduces a hands-on experience.
Class members surveyed students and
community members about why they don’t drink
Fulton water. The majority of those surveyed said
they did not like the taste, with health concerns
being their next reason.
Armed with this information, the students
ventured to the library to do research on
the history of mining in Fulton. One of the
possibilities they considered was mine runoff
causing heavy metal contamination in the water.
They also researched the Internet for water
quality data, regulations for tap and bottled water
and Fulton’s water quality compared to that of
Jefferson City and St. Louis.
We have a right as informed citizens to analyze
our water quality,” Kyger said.
What the students found through their research
came as a surprise. The quality of Fulton water
was as good as Jefferson City or St. Louis water.
They concluded that Fulton water was not only
healthy, but better to drink than bottled water.
The next part of their project centered on the
argument of whether to drink tap or bottled
water. The students overwhelmingly sided with
tap water for several reasons.
First, it is better for the environment. There are
1,500
plastic water bottles consumed in one
second in the United States, which averages out
to 50 billion bottles per year. Of these, 80 percent
end up in the landfill despite recycling programs.
They cannot decompose for thousands of years.
The second point the students made was that
bottled water isn’t always as safe as tap water.
In a four-year study conducted by the Natural
Resources Defense Council, the NRDC found
that roughly 22 percent of the water tested in
water bottles contained contaminant levels that
exceeded state health limits.
Tap Water vs. BottleD Water:
Which Would You Choose?
April 2013
22
| The Hoot
Photo by Rebekah Savage