Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {The Hydrogeology Challenge}

Frannie is so excited to share this fun, online tool with high school aged Girl Scouts - The Hydrogeology Challenge!  You can use it to learn basic groundwater computer modeling concepts.

The Hydrogeology Challenge offers you the chance to learn about groundwater through a computer simulation.  It challenges you to design and conduct a scientific investigation and evaluate solutions to complex real-world problems.

What you'll need:
  • A computer or tablet with internet access
  • A calculator

Additional Resources:
  • Video walk-through: this walks you through how to use the computer model.

Before you start using the model, Frannie suggests you get to know a few groundwater basics:

1.  Know the basics
     a.  What is groundwater?
     b.  How does groundwater move?
     Groundwater is part of the hydrologic cycle - water is recharged to the groundwater system by rainwater, melting snow and streams, lakes, or rivers.  Check out the image below!  Groundwater can flow into surface water and surface water can contribute to groundwater recharge.

     c.  What do you need to know in order to model the movement of groundwater?  Using the Hydrogeology Challenge, you will calculate:
  • Flow direction - Which way the groundwater is flowing.
  • Gradient - You will be given the location of three wells, the water table elevation of each well, and the distance between the wells to determine the slope of the water table.
  • Horizontal Velocity - The soil porosity (the amount of empty space in the soil, measured as a percentage) and the hydraulic conductivity (describes the ease with which water can move through pore spaces or fractures.  This is dependent on what the soil is made of - if the soil is sandy, it will allow water to move through it more easily, water does not move very easily in soil made mostly of clay).

2.  Run the model!

Follow the directions - the model is created as a learning tool, so it will walk you through each step.  First you will choose three wells.  And don't worry if you miss an answer, you can use check answer and show solution buttons to help you along!

Here are a couple of tips from Frannie:

1.  Read the directions carefully. 
2.  If you want you can further learn about the assumptions that were made in creating the Hydrogeology model.  To do this, click on the "Reality Check" arrow as you work through the three steps.

3.  If you want to do it again:
  • Choose different wells
  • Turn pumping on
  • Choose a different map

4.  Remember, if you need more help watch the video walk-through.
5.  Get your school involved with Science Olympiad and compete in the Hydrogeology Challenge!