This week, Frannie had a blast attending a local Groundwater Festival for students across her state. Frannie had so much fun learning about groundwater with the students! Frannie and her friends used the Awesome Aquifer kits to learn groundwater vocabulary, how wells work, and how pollution can contaminate our groundwater resources.
Check out the image below:
An aquifer is an underground geological formation of sand, soil, gravel, and rock that can store and yield water – we call this water groundwater. Frannie learned the unsaturated zone is the area immediately below the land surface where the pores contain both water and air but are not totally saturated with water. Plant roots can use the water passing through this area. The water table indicates where the top of the saturated zone is in an aquifer. The saturated zone is the area where the rock and soil are completely full of water – think of it like a sponge completely soaked with water.
Then, Frannie and her friends made a lake in their models to show how surface water, the water we can see (ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, etc.) and groundwater are connected. Groundwater can become surface water by discharging, this is when groundwater emerges from an aquifer into surface water. You may have felt discharge when you are swimming in a lake and felt a cold spot! Brrr!
Frannie and her friends used syringes with attached hoses as “wells,” they drilled their wells and pumped the groundwater and observed what happened. They noticed as they were withdrawing water from their aquifer that the water table was dropping. They recharged, or added water, to their groundwater by “making it rain.”
Lastly, Frannie learned about contamination. Contaminants can make their way into groundwater and make it unfit for human use and can harm the environment. Contaminants can be naturally-occurring or manmade, some examples that Frannie learned throughout the day include: pesticides, fertilizers, and oil. Can you think of more examples? Frannie and the students added a “contaminant” (water with food coloring added to it) and watched how it seeped into the ground and moved through the aquifer and discharged into the surface water they created. The students then discussed ways we can protect both groundwater quality and quantity, here are a few ideas:
- Take shorter showers to use less groundwater
- Make sure that chemicals are properly disposed of to protect groundwater quality (check for a household hazardous waste take-back event in your community)
- Only apply the recommended amount of fertilizer to your lawn to protect groundwater quality
Frannie had such a fantastic day learning groundwater vocabulary and using a model aquifer kit to learn about groundwater and surface water’s connection, pollution and pollution prevention. Find out if your community hosts a groundwater or water festival that you can attend to participate in hands-on learning!
Would you like to do this activity with your troop? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to make this happen.