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Thread: Any ideas for a Science Project?

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    Lightbulb Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Hello all, my daughter is in 7th grade & has her science project coming up. She's a very bright & intelligent girl so we're looking for something a bit more interesting than "Do plants grow better with Brawndo or Water?". Last year, she did her project on audio sample rates and if people could hear the difference between samples of 44.1Khz vs 98.6Khz (yes, it's true - CD quality is as good as your ears can ever hear!) so she's capable of handling actual science.

    Both my daughters & I are musicians, so her project actually meant something to her.

    In keeping with that theme, we just moved into our house a month ago and we finally have a pool! So, she said she'd be interested in something to do with chemistry & since testing the pool & keeping it running well is all about chemistry, it would be relevant to her.

    With that in mind, can anyone think of any pool related science that would be fun to not only do, but useful for anyone with a pool? We have to avoid things like "Which pool shock tastes better?" or anything simplistic like product comparison, but at the same time we don't have a chem-lab to perform quantum-state predictions on the free chlorine.

    I mean, we have a 22k gallon bucket of 'ready to chemically abuse' fluid right outside so any thoughts or ideas would be fantastic.

    Thanks a Ton,
    R

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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    FC degradation due to sun exposure with varying CYA levels or FC/CYA ratios
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    I witnessed a test of distilled water vs tap water vs treated water. The theory is water does NOT conduct electricity. Minerals in water conduct electricity. I have set up that proves this. Just a thought. Write if your interested.



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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Here's a quick thought based on a process we recommend all the time but have no quantitative measure of -

    How does the out gassing rate of CO2 and subsequent pH rise scale with different forms of aeration (return jets, bubblers, spa spillways, waterfalls)?

    We always recommend the acid/aeration method for lowering TA and while we can quantify the TA decrease due to acid additions, we have no way of quantifying pH rise time.


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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Calling Chem Geek!!!!

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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    I would be interested in seeing if CYA make water more opaque to UV light. Perhaps a graph of UV opacity vs increasing CYA levels.

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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    If you'd like your daughter to make a million dollars while she's at it, tell her to invent/formulate stable cya-eating bacteria that is self limiting, can be manufactured, and works reliably in all pools

    But seriously, though you don't want her trying it IN your pool, it might be interesting to examine the conditions whereby 0 FC actually converts CYA into ammonia. There's a lot of controversy and a dearth of science on this subject!
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Quote Originally Posted by cwritner View Post
    I witnessed a test of distilled water vs tap water vs treated water. The theory is water does NOT conduct electricity. Minerals in water conduct electricity.
    I too have done this experiment. Pure water does not conduct at all, but it doesn't take much oil / salt from your skin to get it to start conducting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    If you'd like your daughter to make a million dollars while she's at it, tell her to invent/formulate stable cya-eating bacteria that is self limiting, can be manufactured, and works reliably in all pools
    Oh lord I'd love to have that myself. My CYA is up there & I need to drain & refill. Luckily I'm on well water so it's not expensive, but still...

    I had a friend suggest purification of the pool water back to something drinkable. Outside of distillation, are there other chemicals I could add to precipitate some of the undesirables out of the water?

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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Unfortunately, it's either distillation or reverse osmosis. There are filters like for your fridge but ones to do that much water would be VERY expensive.
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    I can think of two pool-related chemistry experiments.

    1) Manipulate TA & CH & pH to get various CSI levels and see if scale forms as predicted.

    2) See how quickly some copper pipes dissolve at various low pH levels.
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    How about constructing a simple SWG cell and predict and analyze the ion chemistry involved?
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    There are lots of great ideas in this thread. Just keep in mind that some experiments are hard to do in small water volumes. If you get a 50 gallon trash can and fill it with pool water (you can use a submersible pump and hose for doing that) you can get more stability. Let me comment on each of the experiments mentioned since it will likely come down to doing what is practical.

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    FC degradation due to sun exposure with varying CYA levels or FC/CYA ratios
    This is a fairly easy experiment to do using a FAS-DPD chlorine test kit since you can use a 25 ml water sample to get 0.2 ppm FC resolution. In addition to varying FC and CYA levels, you also need to control for water depth so have both shallow and deeper containers large enough to be exposed to sunlight (it would be hard to lower the CYA level if one used the swimming pool). You'll need a control for each depth that is not exposed to sunlight.

    Analysis of the results will be challenging, however, since the chemistry is complicated and it doesn't tease out the different effects of protection between chlorine from it being bound to CYA vs. any CYA or CYA-Cl UV shielding effects.

    Quote Originally Posted by cwritner View Post
    I witnessed a test of distilled water vs tap water vs treated water. The theory is water does NOT conduct electricity. Minerals in water conduct electricity. I have set up that proves this. Just a thought. Write if your interested.
    This should be a very easy experiment to do if you have a conductivity meter. If you use a standard multimeter, that won't work well because the probes used could have electrolysis and such resistance tests use DC while to lessen electrolysis effects you'd want to use AC. You'd probably want to use a standard conductivity meter since building your own will be challenging to determine absolute numbers given plate areas, distance, etc. though you could use such a homemade system for relative measurements.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyfulNoise View Post
    How does the out gassing rate of CO2 and subsequent pH rise scale with different forms of aeration (return jets, bubblers, spa spillways, waterfalls)?
    For this experiment one would need enough of a pH swing to be accurate enough with the pH test unless you use an electronic meter that you calibrate regularly. If possible, you want to get a control/baseline with a pool cover since the pH can also rise from other sources such as from plaster, especially if it is newer.

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesW View Post
    I would be interested in seeing if CYA make water more opaque to UV light. Perhaps a graph of UV opacity vs increasing CYA levels.
    This would be one of the most useful experiments for us here on the forum since it answers a fundamental question and can lead to better modeling, but it is also more difficult or costly since it requires some way of measuring UV, preferably with a spectrophotometer. If your daughter can contact a nearby university and see if they have one in one of their labs that she could use, they might be willing to accommodate. For this test, not only should CYA in water at levels found in pools be used (so say 30 ppm, 50 ppm, 80 ppm), but there should be tests with and without FC as well since it's possible that the chlorine bound to CYA absorbs more. Note that the UV spectrum we are interested in is that from sunlight that makes it to the ground so 300-380 nm which is higher than traditional UV spectrophotometric measurements.

    Another alternative for this experiment that would not need a spectrophotometer would be a 2-container apparatus using quartz glass that is transparent to UV (especially the 300-380 nm range). You would have one container on top of the other with sunlight shining from above (so the sides of the containers should be made opaque to only have light come from above). The one on top would contain CYA or CYA+FC and you should also have a control with just water. The bottom one would contain FC with no CYA and would be used to "measure" the rate of chlorine degradation. We know that with no CYA that chlorine degrades rapidly from the UV in sunlight. The bottom container should have the pH high so that the chlorine is mostly hypochlorite (you'd need a pH meter or an extended or high-range pH test for this). A pH of 9.0 would have 97% of the FC be hypochlorite ion and that has a half-life in direct noontime sun of only 20 minutes in shallow depths (but using a control under the same conditions would let you calculate relative protection so UV absorption).

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    it might be interesting to examine the conditions whereby 0 FC actually converts CYA into ammonia.
    The main controversy with this is that some claim that the bacteria will only grow in anaerobic conditions and that pool water is not sufficiently anaerobic. So if you can take regular pool water exposed to air with modest circulation and can have bacteria grow in it and convert CYA into ammonia or just degrade the CYA in general, then that would be interesting. To encourage bacterial growth, you'll want to add nutrients to the pool so fertilizer (phosphates and nitrates) though that will also support algae growth so you can keep the water in the dark which should limit algae growth but still allow bacteria to grow. You can take some soil to add to the water and you'll want the water to be warmer to speed up the experiment (around body temperature is ideal but 90-95F would be OK). Unfortunately, this experiment is likely to fail most of the time since the conversion doesn't usually happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard320 View Post
    1) Manipulate TA & CH & pH to get various CSI levels and see if scale forms as predicted.

    2) See how quickly some copper pipes dissolve at various low pH levels.
    One can over-saturate the water with calcium carbonate and not see scale, but if one introduces nucleation sites then the precipitation can occur more rapidly. So having some solid calcium carbonate already in the water can then be weighed even if you don't see cloudiness or additional precipitation. Or you can use a plaster coupon but that's more complicated to make.

    For copper corrosion you want a container with water that is not only controlled in pH (you can use phosphate buffers for that) but that has water flow. Measuring corrosion can be tricky but you can use a scale that measures 0.01 g up to 500 g (such as this one and get a 500 g standard weight such as this one). It won't distinguish between the copper oxide layer, but it should measure any copper losses and you could use a copper test to measure copper ion ppm in the water as well. You can also repeat the experiment using high chlorine levels and even combine the two for a matrix of chlorine and pH levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by rdshackleford View Post
    How about constructing a simple SWG cell and predict and analyze the ion chemistry involved?
    A variant of this would look at the differing amounts of chlorine vs. oxygen gas that are produced as a function of the chloride salt level (one can use potassium sulfate or other non-chloride salt for equivalent conductivity at zero to low chloride levels) and as a function of different electrode materials used such as carbon vs. different non-electrolyzing metals (platinum is expensive, however) and both uncoated titanium and titanium coated with ruthenium, but the latter can be expensive or hard to find.
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Excellent!!!! As a former high school science teacher, I find this thread and everyone's contributions fascinating. Kudos to your daughter, Robb!

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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    I was sort of curious, back when we got our water softener...we eventually got the standard salt-tub softener, but I was intrigued by the Template Assisted Crystallization TAC method, which changes the structure of the calcium so that it no longer bonds to metal, and in some "reported instances" actually removes scale from existing build up.

    I wondered how hard fill-water, treated this way, might change the CSI versus tap water (at, say, 750) versus distilled or low hardness water. And if there would be a visible difference along the water line.

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    Our home softener vendor had this as an option, not sure how easy it would be to get a small scale (ha! small scale) version though.
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    A variant of this would look at the differing amounts of chlorine vs. oxygen gas that are produced as a function of the chloride salt level (one can use potassium sulfate or other non-chloride salt for equivalent conductivity at zero to low chloride levels) and as a function of different electrode materials used such as carbon vs. different non-electrolyzing metals (platinum is expensive, however) and both uncoated titanium and titanium coated with ruthenium, but the latter can be expensive or hard to find.
    7th grade, d00d. When I was in 7th grade, I brought in a cup of dirt. When she asked what my project was, I said "Its a cup of dirt. Just put a big F on it and move on." LOL.
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    See this document for an explanation of scale formation and inhibition. TAC isn't a crystal disruption technique but rather a forced precipitation technique essentially causing scale on nanocrystals instead of on other surfaces. To the degree that there is enough precipitation, one may measure a lower calcium level if such precipitate got filtered out and not re-dissolved during a CH test.
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Quote Originally Posted by RobbAllen View Post
    She's a very bright & intelligent girl so we're looking for something a bit more interesting than "Do plants grow better with Brawndo or Water?".
    Its got what plants crave. Its got electrolytes!

    (I have nothing extra to add to the discussion, I just really appreciate that reference.)
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Thought of another:

    Effect of phosphates on algae growth. Mix up some lawn fertilizer in water and get a pool store to test it and then dilute it and mix up identical beakers with varying levels of phoshates and keep some properly chlorinated. Line 'em up in a window and top off with distilled water to maintain level and see how fast algae grows and how phosphate levels are immaterial in a properly chlorinated pool. Heck, you could even show the difference in growth by maintaining the pool store 3 ppm FC with 100 CYA versus TFP 4 FC at 50 CYA. Daily pictures will show the progression.

    Then Dad can write it up as an article here that we can refer to every time we get a "Pool Store says Phosphates are..." thread.
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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

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    Re: Any ideas for a Science Project?

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    See this document for an explanation of scale formation and inhibition. TAC isn't a crystal disruption technique but rather a forced precipitation technique essentially causing scale on nanocrystals instead of on other surfaces. To the degree that there is enough precipitation, one may measure a lower calcium level if such precipitate got filtered out and not re-dissolved during a CH test.
    so you'd test for lower CH though the actual level in the pool might be the same as it otherwise would have been. But it still might change the point at which scaling occurs.
    I wonder if, for a high CH pool, just cycling the water through a TAC filter (instead of drain or refill with TAC water) would reduce scaling.
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