Fun Projects: Build an Edible Aquifer

Fun Projects: Build an Edible Aquifer

Hey Kids! Did you ever wonder where all of the water you use comes from? In the Antelope Valley, we get some of our water from under the ground. Groundwater doesn't flow like an underground river. Instead, groundwater is stored in and moves slowly through layers of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.

It can be kind of hard to picture how this works, so to help you out, we're going to make an aquifer. In this case, it will be an edible aquifer. This will show you how groundwater is stored and how what we do above ground can affect the water underground.

Steps

  1. Aquifer Flash PresentationBefore you begin, review the Aquifer Flash Presentation to get a good idea what you will be creating in your cup, and what all those big words mean.
  2. Begin to construct your edible aquifer by filling a clear plastic cup 1/3 full with crushed ice (represents all of the sand, gravel, and rocks in the aquifer.)
  3. Add enough soda to just cover the crushed ice. This is our groundwater. See how the "water" fills in the spaces around the "gravel, sand, and rock."
  4. Add a layer of ice cream to serve as a "confining layer" over the water-filled aquifer. The confining layer, is usually clay or dense rock. The water is confined below this layer. Today our confining layer is going to consist of ice cream. Spread a layer of ice cream over the ice chips and soda.
  5. Then add more crushed ice on top of the "confining layer."
  6. Edible AquiferAdd a layer of colored sprinkles to represent soils. This layer should be sprinkled over the top to create the porous top layer. Think of this as your yard and what you feel under your feet on a nature hike.
  7. Now add the food coloring to the a small amount of soda. The food coloring represents contamination or pollution. Can you think of some pollutants that can affect groundwater? Watch what happens when we pour it on the land.
  8. Using your straw, drill a well (push the straw down toward the bottom of the cup) into the center of your aquifer.
  9. Slowly begin to pump the well by sucking on the straw. Watch as the water table goes down? Also, watch and see how the contaminants can get sucked into the well area and end up in the groundwater by eventually leaking through the confining layer.
  10. Now pretend it's raining and recharge the aquifer by adding more soda. A real aquifer takes a lot longer to recharge, this is just an example to speed up the process and give you a little more soda to drink! That's it, now it's time to eat up your aquifer. YUM!

Objective

To teach about the geologic formations in an aquifer, how pollution can get into groundwater and how pumping can cause a decline in the water table.

Materials Needed

These are the things you will need to complete this project:

  • Clear plastic cups
  • Crushed ice
  • Lemon-lime soda
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Cake decoration sprinkles
  • Blue or red food coloring
  • Drinking straws
  • Spoons
"Providing high quality water to our current and future customers at a reasonable cost."