If you’re worried about your drinking water — and with the recent news, who wouldn’t be? — a Google search is likely to take you to Wikipedia. We’re working with student editors to make sure that these questions get good, scientifically accurate answers, drawn from reliable sources. This week, we’re sharing some student work that helps to answer questions about water, and our environment.
From Oregon State University’s “Socio-technological aspects of water resources” course, led by Dr. Mary Santelmann, comes a much-improved article about a source of drinking water in Texas.
These graduate students transformed a four-paragraph article about the Edwards Aquifer into a researched encyclopedia entry with 10 sections and various sub-sections, maps, and tables. The current article includes legal and policy views on the aquifer, plus conservation efforts and even demographics of the people it serves.
This is the kind of work students are uniquely positioned to contribute to Wikipedia. Drawing on access to relevant resources, and the knowledge that comes with pursuit of their degree, these students filled in a crucial content gap that other editors may not be inclined to fill.
Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Cook’s Environmental Chemistry course at Louisiana State University asked students to explore the role of chemicals in the environment, and to share that understanding with the world through Wikipedia.
One student contributed a description of the environmental impacts of ceramic glaze. Another shared the ways that tourists’ sunscreen can impact coral bleaching. Thanks to these students, Wikipedia now has an article about edible water bottles, an alternative to PET and plastic bottles. The article offers context for the environmental impacts of traditional disposable plastic water bottles. Similarly, other students created an article on the environmental impact of Mardi Gras beads and pharmaceutical packaging. Another created an article about the effects of mercury pollution in the ocean. The information these students have contributed about chemistry and the environment has been seen more than 65,000 times. We like to think of that as 65,000 questions answered through student contributions.
Thanks to all of these students for their excellent contributions, and for sharing crucial scientific knowledge.
Photo: Edwards Aquifer spring. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5198820