Question Sheet: Pollution Detective


Before reading:

  1. Are you worried about the quality of the drinking water in the area where

    you live? 

  2. How would you come up with an idea for a science fair project?

During reading:

  1. Why are residents of Parkersburg, W.Va., worried about their water supply? 
  2. How did Kelydra Welcker’s first science fair success help her with her most

    recent project? 

  3. What are “endocrine disruptors”? 
  4. What is APFO? 
  5. Explain in your own words how Kelydra detected APFO in drinking water. 
  6. Describe how Kelydra’s project might “do more than detect APFO in water . .

    . . It might also help people remove the chemical from their water supply.”

After reading:

  1. What does Kelydra’s story tell you about ways to succeed in science fairs? 
  2. In what other directions could Kelydra expand or extend her project? What

    more could she study? What sorts of questions could she try to answer? 

  3. How do you think a chemical company such as DuPont would react to Kelydra’s

    research and discoveries? See (DuPont).

    What information does the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provide about

    PFOA? See Environmental Protection Agency). 

  4. Why are mosquitoes a good research subject? See (How Stuff Works) and Files). 

  5. How does an electrolytic cell work? What are some other uses for an

    electrolytic cell? See (Wikipedia) or




If people in your community were to discover that their drinking water is contaminated, what could they do to find out what caused the problem? How could they get the problem fixed? To see examples of how people in Parkersburg, W.Va., and elsewhere responded to such a situation, see (Environmental News Network), (Ohio Citizen Action), and (Fluoride Action Network).


  1. Kelydra explained that it is important to be able to talk about science “in

    sound bites, short and sweet . . . so that people can put the message in their

    heads.” Write two “sound bites” about Kelydra’s project. 

  2. Suppose that you are writing an article about Kelydra and her science fair

    project for the local newspaper in Parkersburg, W.Va. Make a list of five

    questions that you would ask Kelydra when you interview her.


A female mosquito lives for 150 days and lays a raft of 250 eggs every 15 days. How many eggs will she lay in her lifetime?