With a new school year arriving, many students will be thinking about potential topics for science fairs. When it comes to important issues, water tops the list, offering a rich subject for science fair projects.

Whether monitoring water quality, energy produced by water, the effect of transforming water into different states (solid, liquid or gas), ways to more efficiently use or store water, the impact of runoff, erosion, or the interaction between plants, animals and water, there are countless possibilities.

Sometimes, science fair projects can even have potential real world applications. One example is the science project of a 16-year-old South African student who won Google’s Community Impact Award when she created an absorbent polymer to help fight the effects of drought.

With the theme “No More Thirsty Crops,” Kiara Nirghin of Johannesburg used orange peels and avocado skins to make a polymer that can hold water reserves and help farmers sustain their crops during dry times.

“Kiara found an ideal material that won’t hurt the budget in simple orange peel, and through her research, she created a way to turn it into soil-ready water storage with help from the avocado,” said Andrea Cohan, a Google Science Fair program leader.

That is just one example of a science fair project having the potential to change the world. There are numerous opportunities for students to develop a greater understanding of science through their projects and to make an impact that reaches beyond the classroom.

One resource offering potential topics for science fair projects is the Science Fair Adventure website, which suggests topics such as:

  • Bending water by using positively charged electrons.
  • The impact of adding solutes to water and how it affects the boiling point.
  • Desalinating sea water to produce fresh drinking water.
  • The process used to distill impure water and make it pure.
  • How to filter different substances from water.
  • Determining how heat and airflow affect water evaporation.
  • Finding the pH levels of different types of water (municipal and well water) and seeing which is more acidic and which is more basic.

Another online resource presents science fair topics suggested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Encouraging students to consider a project focusing on surface water quality, the EPA notes that more than 40 percent of American waters do not meet federal water quality standards. “The majority of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a polluted waterway,” the EPA release notes. “Your science fair project will help bring attention to surface water quality problems and could develop solutions!”

Topics recommended by the EPA include:

  • The impact of fertilizers and algae on water quality.
  • Stream health and small organism (macroinvertebrate) diversity.
  • The effect of runoff on water quality.
  • How buffers impact algae growth and water quality.
  • Cleaning products and their impact on water quality.

These are just a few of the numerous subjects to consider when it comes to the science of water, and of course, all life depends on water, making this a great topic. For more ideas, visit ScienceKids, The Water Project, or the EPA