Obtaining Permission to Collect Water Samples

Students need written permission from parents, guardians and other adults to collect water samples from homes and other privately owned buildings. This post includes a link to the permission form that students should use. It also explains why it is important to get permission and communicate the goals of the project before collecting samples.

Telling Others About CTTM

We hope that parents, guardians, and other adults who allow students to collect samples will be interested in what the students are doing. The information sheet and permission form that we have developed provides information about the project’s goals beyond its focus on engaging students in learning science and math.

Describing the Information the Students are Collecting

The information sheet lists the kinds of information that the students will want to collect. This is important because:

  • Some of the information, such as information about history of leaks, building age, and whether the plumbing has been replaced requires cooperation and input from the building’s owners, tenants, or managers.
  • Students may need assistance from adults in making some of the observations, such as those about pipes, pumps, and water filters.
  • It is important that the building’s owners or managers are comfortable with the information that the students are collecting.

Describing Limitations Related to Data Quality

It is important that the adults understand that CTTM is focused on patterns over many buildings in an area rather than just on water in a single building. It is important that they understand that, since we are using inexpensive test strips, the results from the tests are not, by themselves, good enough to use in making decisions about a particular building.


It is important that we assure building owners that we will not share personally identifying information or the actual address of their building.

The Information Sheet and Permission Form

Here is a link to the information sheet and permission form that should be competed and returned for each building where students will collect samples. The first two pages provide background and other information that the building owner, parent, or other adult can keep. Please have students return the last page with a signature and with boxes checked. Please stress that checking the boxes is important.

What We Are Asking Permission For

We are asking permission to collect water samples and other data about a particular building and permission to use those samples and data to creates maps and models that do not contain personal information or building addresses.

Note that we are NOT asking permission for the students to participate in the project since this project is part of the science or math learning program in the school

Do We Always Need Permission?


Equally important as getting permission is making sure that everyone understands what kinds of information the students are collecting and what it is good for.

The ONE situation that we can think of where it might be OK to not provide the information sheet and obtain a signed permission form would be when the students are just collecting water samples from the your school. Even there, talking with the principal and the maintenance team about what your students are doing would be useful. Getting the principal or other appropriate person to read, complete and sign the permission form should be easy and, again, seems like a good idea.

What if a Student Cannot Get Permission from Home?

This shouldn’t matter much in terms of the project’s goals or the learning that CTTM supports. The focus is on looking at overall patterns and making inferences on the basis of evidence. Students can do that even when their own house is not part of the dataset.

Returning the Permission Forms

At this time we are still working on finding the best way for you to get these forms back to us. At the moment, the easiest ways would be for you to:

  • Scan them and send the scanned images to us. This works only if you have access to a scanner.
  • Alternatively, take a picture of the page with your phone or tablet and send us the picture.

Your Thoughts and Ideas

We would like to make this process as easy for everyone — you, the students, the adults, and us — as possible. We would like your thoughts about how to do that. Would it be better to have an electronic form that adults could read and return? Maybe a combination of approaches? Let us know …

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