Begin Collecting CTTM Data

This page provides an overview of how to set things up so that students can begin collecting data. It suggests a sequence of steps that you can follow and includes information about:

  • Assigning Observer IDs to students.
  • Getting permission to collect information about a building and to take water samples from taps in a building.
  • Providing students with the paper forms they will need to record their observations.

The details about how to do these things are in the posts on this website. But, there are a lot of posts. So, you can think of this page as a guide to those posts, helping you figure out which ones to read first, which ones next, and so on. We hope it will help you get your kids busy collecting data.

Paper AND Electronic Forms

The data that students collect in CTTM is stored on the Anecdata platform. We do this so that students in different schools can share data and so that students can see their data visually, on maps. It is also a secure place to keep and organize all the data for later analysis with Tuva and other tools.

But before the data are uploaded to Anecdata, they start out on paper. The reason for this is that students collect the data by asking adults questions, by going into basements, equipment rooms, and crawl spaces to look at pipes, by looking at sinks and other plumbing fixtures, and by using meters, test strips, and their own senses to get data about drinking water quality. This is their “fieldwork.”

They use paper forms to record their observations and measurements while they are in the field. Later, back at home or in the classroom, they enter their observations and measurements in Anecdata. So …

Data collection begins on paper

What that means is that teachers can get students into the field and collecting data quickly. Helping the students learn to enter their observations on Anecdata can wait until they have some data. We hope that by starting with the data, on paper, the electronic part will make more sense to the students.

First Things First

You should obtain permission from the people who own or manage a building before students begin collecting water samples and information about the plumbing in the building. If students are collecting samples from where they live, that permission will come from the student’s parents or other adults that they live with.

To make this easy, we have written a post all about getting permission and why it is important. The post also includes a link to the permission form we would like you to use. The “permission form” is much more than that — it also explains to parents what the CTTM project is all about and describes the information that students will be collecting and what that information is good for.

Making Sense of the Datasheets

Rather than creating one enormous datasheet for information about the building, its plumbing, and the quality of the water coming from different taps in the building, we decided to break the data collection into separate datasheets.

We did this for several reasons. One is that it is easier for students to do one thing — for example, record the water chemistry information from test strips — rather than having to keep track of many things on a long, complicated form

Another reason is that we know that different teachers will be collecting information in different ways. In some cases it will be data about water quality from a single tap in many buildings. In other cases it will be one building with many taps. In other cases it will be the same taps sampled again and again over the year. By breaking the datasheets into smaller pieces, we have been able to design a system that will support teachers in doing all of these things.

So, before getting into the details of Building IDs, Tap IDs, and so on, we suggest that your read this short overview of how the different datasheets all fit together.

Providing IDs for Your Students

CTTM is designed to keep so that your students can add their observations to the Anecdata database without revealing their identity. The way that works is that each student has an Observer ID that you will assign. Here is how to do that.

Assigning IDs to Buildings

Beyond identifiers for your students, the other identifier that needs teacher’s attention is the Building ID. The reason that this is so important is that all the data that the students collect needs be tied back to a particular building. The Building ID is what makes that connection. Here is what you need to know about adding new buildings.

if you and your students want to look at differences between taps within a building (for example, between filtered water in the kitchen and unfiltered tap in a laundry room or between new and old parts of the buiding), you will need to create additional Tap IDs for the building. It is easy — here is how to do it.

Collecting the Actual Water Data

Once you have Observer IDs, Building IDs, and Tap IDs, students are ready to start collecting data about the water that comes out of these taps — along with the plumbing in the building.

NOTE: Every one of the datasheets related to water quality asks for an Observer ID, Building ID, teacher name, and optional Tap ID. These IDs are essential to keeping observations connected to buildings and taps. However, it is possible to have students begin using these datasheets to start collecting water data before you have set up all these IDs.  You can do this either by setting up provisional IDs or by telling the students to leave the fields blank.  But this is risky and likely to result in confusion.  You would not want to collect very much data this way.  Set up the IDs early in the process.

We have created paper datasheets (PDF files you can print) and detailed instructions (again, PDF files to print) for students to guide them as the collect water chemistry data, visual evidence of water quality, and data about total dissolved solids (TDS). This post provides links to all these PDF files and provides you with an overview of the process.

Finally …

Teachers whose student are collecting data from public water systems (which includes municipal water systems but also schools that have their own well, trailer parks, campgrounds, restaurants in rural areas, and more) will benefit from this overview of publc water systems in Maine. It provides a link to a report that you will probably want to share with your students.

Next …

We will focus more on Anedcata and showing students how to get the data that they have collected online. But, for now, get the students out into the field collecting data!