Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Students learn how tough pollution solutions are

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        FOREST PARK — Each group of students in Leona Buchanan's fifth-grade classroom got a tray with two plastic jars — one filled with water, the other empty — food coloring, a coffee filter, strainer, cotton ball and two paper towels.

        As education specialist Laura Taphorn told the Waycross Elementary School students about water pollution sources, teacher Angelle Greene began adding pollutants to their jars of water.

        Vinegar represented acid rain, food coloring subbed for pesticides, cornstarch for vinegar. Paper dots were added to simulate trash thrown into rivers.

        It was up to Ms. Greene's students to work as a group to “clean” the water using the filters provided. Their task was to fill the empty jar with water they had cleaned themselves without spilling it on the tray.

        The exercise was one of several that Ms. Taphorn regularly brings to children in the Winton Woods Schools through Forest Park's Environmental Awareness Program. Each year teachers in the district receive a brochure from which they can select presentations that tie into their curriculum.

        “There will never be any more water or any less water,” said Mrs. Taphorn, who works in Forest Park's Environmental Awareness Program. “There is the same amount of useable, drinkable water now as there was when dinosaurs roamed the earth.”

        Jazmine Thomas, Tempestt Bess, Marese Brown, and Chiamaka Okwumo began by pouring the polluted mixture into the clean jar and then putting a coffee filter over the mouth and pouring it back.

        “We've got to put the paper towels together to collect the drip,” Jazmine said as the water went through the towels, leaving some of the paper dots on the paper towels.

        When the group added the coffee filter, they had to figure out which way — up or down — it worked best.

        “I didn't think we'd get too much of it clean,” said Marese, 11.

        Mrs. Taphorn said only 1 percent of all the earth's water is useable and drinkable. About 97 percent is salt water and another 2 percent is glaciers or very deep ground water.

        Whenever water is polluted, it has to be cleaned because there would always be the same supply of water recycling itself over and over through the water cycle of evaporation and rain.


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