Water Taste Test


Jaclyn Hoahing

University Neighborhood High School, Manhattan

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

August 2010



Subject:  General Science

Time: This lesson can be taught in one double period or 2 single class periods.  If you want to add the movie, it is 63 min. long

Introduction: This is one of my favorite lessons because it addresses students’ misconceptions about potable water while teaching science skills and concepts.  Plus it is fun.  This lesson can be used to practice the science skills of making observations, collecting and organizing data, and graphing.  It can also be used to teach the concepts of the hydrologic cycle, properties of water, groundwater filtration, watersheds, resource management, and health.  This lesson can be adapted to any content area depending on your objectives.

Aim: How do people obtain drinking water? 

Vocabulary: potable, watershed, aquifier, pathogens 


Do Now: Where do you get your drinking water from? If you buy bottled water, do you prefer a specific brand?


1.       Discuss the do now.  Take a poll of how many people drink their tap water, how many people drink bottled water, and what brands of bottled water they prefer.  Record on the board.  Ask students why they drink bottled water?  Ask students if they think they will be able to tell the difference between NYC tap water and different bottled waters.

2.       Think, pair, share – What are important characteristics of potable water?

3.       Ask students what characteristics we will be able to test in a water taste test and how.

4.       Hand out lab sheet and conduct water taste test.

5.       Collect class data on which were the favored samples and which were disliked.  Tell students brands of bottled water and ask them to make hypotheses about which samples were which brands, and which is NYC tap.

6.       Tell students which samples are which.  Discuss where each of the waters comes from.

7.       Have students work in groups to make a bar graph of the class results.

8.       Read article, “Which water is Tastiest”, as a class and discuss.

9.       Read article “The Purity Factor”.  This can be homework if this is a 2 day lesson.

10.   Discuss article.  Ask students if they know the number one killer of children worldwide.  Tell them it is waterborne diseases which are acquired through drinking water that is contaminated with sewage, pathogens, or chemicals.  Ask students what they think some of the symptoms of having a waterborne disease are.

11.   Hand out disease description sheets and have students read them.

12.   Have students work in pairs.  Give each pair an envelope with patients’ symptoms.  Have students try to identify the disease the person has.  This activity is from Project Wet.

13.   Tell students that we are very lucky to have a good water supply system.  Hand out copies of our watershed and drinking water history.  Have students read and discuss where we get our drinking water from.

14.   Have students work in small groups to make a timeline of New York City’s clean drinking water.

15.   Exit ticket – What have you learned about potable water? 

Optional Extension: “Thirst” is a documentary film about global corporations that are buying up local water supplies and how this affects the communities.  Shot in Bolivia, India, Japan, and USA the film examines the conflict between public stewardship and private profit.  www.thirstthemovie.org


New York City Science Performance Standards: 

*     c Demonstrates an understanding of interdependence of organisms.

*     b Demonstrates an understanding of geochemical cycles.

*     c Demonstrates an understanding of health.

*     d Demonstrates an understanding of the impact of technology.

*     e Demonstrates an understanding of the impact of science.

*     f Works individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas.

*     b Records and stores data using a variety of formats.

*     d Acquires information from multiple sources.

*     a Represents data and results in multiple ways.