All posts by Zachary Henstrand

Student Investigation: Which Water Fountain Reigns Supreme?

The Taste Testers – Nick Palacorolla and John Torroella

This month, two of my friends and I set out on a mission to find the best water fountains at Mount Saint Joseph.  Juniors John “The Cuban Missile” Torroella and Nick “Big Daddy Nick” Palacorolla served as the water judges. After narrowing down our top candidates, they taste tested each one.  Based on a poll conducted via social media, we narrowed down the criteria for judging water fountain supremacy.

The three main criteria for judging were taste, temperature, and water pressure. Each factor was rated on a scale of one to ten, and the three scores were averaged for an overall score. We also decided to test the pH of the fountains using a digital pH probe.  A pH lower than seven is considered acidic, and a pH greater than seven is considered basic.  Pure water has a pH of seven, but the pH drinking water generally falls between 6.5 to 8.5.

Library Fountain

“This is my personal favorite, and it is in a good location.” – A previously thirsty St. Joe student

Nick: Temperature: 9, Taste: 9, Water Pressure: 7

John: Temperature: 9, Taste: 9, Water Pressure: 8

pH: 7.76

Overall: 8.5 The fountain near the library is probably the best tasting one at the school. This fact, paired with its convenient location make it a serious candidate for being the best fountain on campus.

2nd Floor of Founders Hall (Near Bathrooms)

“This is one of my favorites, but it sprays up in your face.” – A blinded St. Joe junior

Nick: Temperature: 9, Taste: 7, Water Pressure: 8

John: Temperature: 9, Taste: 6.5, Water Pressure: 6 “It’s way too high.”

pH: 7.84

Overall: 7.58 This fountain has an extremely high spray.  It has the highest water pressure at MSJ, but it’s a little too high to be used comfortably.

Fine Arts Center (Near Box Office)

“Pretty average” – A parched freshman on his way to Mr. Breen’s class after a pitstop

Nick: Temperature: 9, Taste: 7, Water Pressure: 6

John: Temperature: 9.5, Taste: 7, Water Pressure: 6.8

pH: 7.68

Overall: 7.55 Pretty average fountain.  Not the best tasting, but the water is decently cold.

Fine Arts Center (Near Piano Lab)

Looking for some stellar water? You’re gonna have to go out of your way to find it!

Nick: Temperature: 10, Taste: 8.5, Water Pressure: 8

John: Temperature: 10 “Coldest one at St. Joe.”, Taste: 8.5, Water Pressure: 8

pH: 7.57

Overall: 8.83 This water fountain is most definitely the coldest one on campus. However, for many students it’s out of the way. Although the water is ice cold, it’s a bit of a hassle to get to it.

Smith Center (Top Floor Near Bathrooms)

“Best water on campus!” – An athlete running late to workouts

Nick: Temperature: 8, Taste: 7, Water Pressure: 10

John: Temperature: 8.5, Taste: 8, Water Pressure: 9.5 “It’s like perfect.”

pH: 7.59

Overall: 8.5 This fountain is probably the best one in the athletic facilities.  With a good balance of taste and temperature and nearly perfect water pressure, the water fountain at the top floor of the Smith Center is a serious contender.

St. Joseph’s Hall (Near Studies Office)

Nick: Temperature: 8.5, Taste: 8, Water Pressure: 8

John: Temperature: 8, Taste: 7 “Lowkey flat”, Water Pressure: 8

pH: 7.67

Overall: 7.92 Pretty average water fountain overall.  There is an emergency defibrillator attached to the wall right above the fountain that students could accidentally hit their heads on (see video below).  This might be the most dangerous water fountain at MSJ! 

Based on the overall scores, the top three water fountains at MSJ are the piano lab fountain, the fountain near the library, and the top floor Smith Center fountain. Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, so which one is best is still up for debate.

The pH probe showed that all of the fountains that we tested were basic.  However, the probe’s readings were slightly sporadic during the testing day, so the data may have a minor margin of error.

Ease of access to good drinking water is important to students and faculty. For this reason, we support the installation of water bottle refilling stations. These refilling stations can be mounted onto existing fountains, making it more cost effective. Installing water bottle refilling stations around campus could make it easier to get cold, tasty water throughout the day.




MSJ CyberPatriots Excel at Virtual Problem-Solving

In an increasingly digital world, it has become more important than ever before to be well versed in using technology. Digital tech is used for almost everything these days. Everyday, Mount Saint Joseph students use iPads to connect to online class assignments. Although these advancements in technology have brought convenience, they have also introduced the risk of being hacked. No system is perfect, and hackers find ways to exploit vulnerabilities in devices.

B431A92D-E2F1-4DAE-BC12-AE3D2975C130Mount Saint Joseph’s CyberPatriots club is looking to find solutions to this problem. The club participates in a nationwide competition organized by the Air Force Association. By learning how to recognize and fix issues in computer operating systems, members of the club are gaining the necessary skills to improve cyber security.

I interviewed Mount Saint Joseph juniors Pierson Polcaro, Jack Phelps, and Martin Blurton-Jones to get a view into the club.

Pierson Polcaro

Q: What does the club do?

A: We fix vulnerabilities on virtual computers. We get sent an image of a computer system, and we fix problems with it.

Q: When did the club start?

A: I think it started last year.

Q: What is the objective of the competitions?

A: To fix the most problems.  You don’t get told what the problems are, so you have to find them and then fix them.

Q: How far have you guys gone in the competition? What teams got the farthest?

A: My team got the farthest.  We were in the platinum tier and we made it to the semifinals.

Jack Phelps

Q: What does the club do?

A: Cyber security. Basically we have disc images with built in vulnerabilities that we have to find and fix. It’s on multiple operating systems like Windows and Linux. We also participate in the Cisco Networking challenge which has a quiz and a packet tracer.

Q: When did the club start?

A: This year is the tenth competition, but the club started last year.

Q: How far have you guys gone in the competition? What teams got the farthest?

A: We got to the semifinal round. One team was in the platinum tier – that was Pierson’s team. It’s the top 30% I think.

Martin Blurton-Jones

Q: What does the club do?

A: CyberPatriot is all about teaching cyber security by giving students an in-depth look at operating systems, networks, and the vulnerabilities that plague both.

Q: What is the objective of the competitions?

A: During a typical competition, teams of students are given “virtual machines”, pre-designed systems set with specific vulnerabilities (such as viruses or risky system settings), which students are then given points for fixing or removing.

Q: How far have you guys gone in the competition? What teams got the farthest?

A: The farthest our school has gotten would be my team, Team PBJ, a team of all juniors. The team made it all the way to the semifinals of the platinum tier (the highest tier within the competition).1BEF6AC3-7879-4269-A240-DA01DE54E07D