Adaptations to a secondary school-based citizen science project to engage students in monitoring well water for arsenic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of STEM Outreach, Special Issue – COVID – 19
Secondary schools in Maine and New Hampshire have been involved in a citizen science program called
“All About Arsenic” aimed at addressing arsenic contamination of well water, one of the most pressing public health issues in both states. Nearly half of the population of Maine and New Hampshire derive their drinking water from private wells which often have arsenic levels above the EPA limit of 10 ppb. Arsenic exposure can cause cancer, adverse cardiovascular effects, and other health problems. Addressing this issue in schools provides context and motivation for students to engage in scientific inquiry and acquire data literacy skills. This project involves students collecting well water samples for arsenic analysis, entering their data into an online citizen science data portal, Anecdata, and using Tuva online software tools to visualize and interpret their data. Students present their data at public meetings to inform community members of their findings with the goal of moving “data to action”. The COVID-19 pandemic presented multiple challenges for teachers engaging their students in this citizen science project. We adapted our program and implemented a series of interventions aimed at supporting teachers in their continued efforts to engage their students the “All About Arsenic” project.