Data to Action: A Secondary School-Based Citizen Science Project to Address Arsenic Contamination of Well Water

Maine and New Hampshire have among the highest per capita reliance on private wells for drinking water in the United States (ME: 56% and NH: 40%). Approximately 10% of Maine wells and 20% of New Hampshire wells have elevated levels of arsenic, yet well water testing rates are low in both states.

Arsenic, a naturally occurring contaminant in some groundwater, is the number one contaminant of concern for human health worldwide. Long term exposure to water with arsenic can lead to a host of health issues, including heart disease; cancer of the bladder, lung, liver, prostate, and skin; diabetes, and more.

In August 2018, MDI Biological Laboratory received a 5-year NIH-NIGMS Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) to create and pilot a national model of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. The project, “Data to Action: A Secondary School-Based Citizen Science Project to Address Arsenic Contamination of Well Water” will engage students as citizen scientists and provide them with the tools and skills to make sense of data so that their results can lead to change in their communities.

All About Arsenic is the real-world context for teaching data literacy skills in schools in Maine and New Hampshire.