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What sort of water is best to grow plants? Some primary school students can tell us

Is one kind of water better than another for helping plants to grow? Some students in rural Queensland investigated how mains water compares to grey water and distilled water as part of an experiment; but it wasn't just the plants that grew - the students' interest in the science behind it did too!

Professor Glen Chilton with students from Osborne State School ©  Daniel Boud

The experiment was undertaken with the help of Professor Glen Chilton, a bird biologist and behavioural ecologist at James Cook University in Townsville, and Principal Hayley Laidlow from Osborne State School.

Together, they form a partnership within CSIRO's STEM Professionals in Schools, a program that connects science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) professionals with teachers to help bring the school curriculum to life.

Quenching a thirst for learning

The students conducted the experiment over six weeks using four different sources of water: Townsville tap water, 'grey' water, water from the school's bore, and distilled water.

At the end of the six week period the biomass of the pea plants grown with different water sources was documented, and the students were encouraged to reflect on the experiment and to use their critical-thinking skills to draw conclusions about the results and what those results meant.

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