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  • Writer's pictureEverett Ackley

Where's My Water - A Scientific Interview into MJHS Water

The numbered cups being prepared for the participants of the study. Photography by Emily Weatherford.


Many students fear that familiar crinkle of the empty plastic bottle. The inevitable choice between living with the thirst or choosing to refill it with the sour, sterile taste of school water. With that in mind, we decided to perform a semi-scientific inquiry into the best (and worst) sources of water. To do this, we employed the opinion of over fifteen students from various classes to taste, smell and judge water from unmarked Dixie® cups each filled with water from one of the twenty-four water fountains in the school.


For the pre-experiment diagnostic questions, we asked some basic health information as well as daily water consumption, whether or not they regularly drink school water and current thirstiness. The average was twenty-eight fluid ounces and most did not regularly drink school water. To minimize thirst clouding the judgment of the participants, they were required to drink eight fluid ounces of water immediately before the judging. Also, the water was kept unrefrigerated until they all reached room temperature, in order to ensure accurate results.


To judge the water quality, the participants graded the water’s scent, taste, mouthfeel (how the water feels in the mouth) and aftertaste on a linear numeric scale of 1-5. Participants were allowed to choose the order in which they tried the water. Each randomly numbered cup corresponded to a water source listed on the master sheet. These were then recorded along with their review. As a control, Aquafina® was used due to its reverse-osmosis filtered property.


The overall highest rated was the B-floor northern hallway upper fountain water with an average of 4/5. The categorical breakdown is below:

Scent: 3/5

Taste: 4/5

Mouthfeel: 4.5/5

Aftertaste: 3.5/5

Overall: 4/5

Varaha Ande (‘23) described the water as “refreshing”, “oaky”, “moist” and “slippery”.

The worst rated by far was the B-floor Girl’s bathroom tap water with an average of 1/5.

Scent: 2/5

Taste: 1/5

Mouthfeel: 1.5/5

Aftertaste: 1/5

Overall: 1/5

McKenzie Fitzgerald (‘23) called it “stinky”, “sour”, “hard” and “borderline poison”.

Surprisingly, the control performed worse than expected, earning a meager 3/5 average.

Scent: 3/5

Taste: 3/5

Mouthfeel: 2.5/5

Aftertaste: 2.5/5

Overall: 3/5

In Wren Linde’s (‘24) words the water was “tasteless”, “unremarkable” and “utterly unsatisfying”.


In all, by detailing various water characteristics from sources across the school, we were able to discern the best (and worst) water through a semi-scientific survey of the MJHS student population. Hopefully, with this information, students can make better informed decisions on where to hydrate.

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