Grungy Groundwater

10 years and up. This activity is appropriate for children studying environmental conditions that involve aquifers and wells, and the issues of pollution.

Students first observe how water and contaminants, represented by a groundwater dye, flow through different soils. Then, using provided scenarios, they create a groundwater model using a variety of soils in a plexiglass shell. Students contaminate their model—simulating road salt, fertilizer runoff, buried waste, chemical spills, etc.—and measure the concentration of the contaminant at different points in their model.

The scenario’s storylines help further students’ thinking about the ways in which groundwater contamination is tested, and health aspects related to contaminated groundwater. This activity stresses measurement, health, and the recording of data.

If you live too far away to join us for Grungy Groundwater on the MIT campus, this activity can be reproduced anywhere. Create the materials for your own groundwater activity.

This activity has been funded by an NIEHS Core Center Award, P30-ES02109, under the direction of MIT professors Heidi Nepf and Trish Culligan.