Published: August 2019

ID #: 73392

Journal: J Sch Health

Authors: Walkinshaw LP, Hecht C, Patel AI, Podrabsky M

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Youth water consumption is inadequate. Increasing adolescent water consumption could support decreased dental caries and body mass index (BMI). Most schools are required to provide free, potable water. However, there is evidence that schools’ self-reported compliance data overestimate access to water in schools. We tested the feasibility of using student citizen scientists to collect high quality observational data about water sources in schools. We trained 12 teams of high school students to use a validated photo-evidence protocol to photograph and submit data on water sources in elementary and secondary schools. We surveyed students and advisors to assess student learning, advisor burden, and project feasibility. Students submitted data for 325 water sources across 40 racially and economically diverse schools. We were able to use 99% of the student-submitted photographs to measure water source wear, cleanliness, accessibility, and flow. The majority of students (72%, N = 70) spent under 2 hours photographing each school. The majority of students and advisors felt the project was valuable and feasible.

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