Aquifer Observation
demonstration activity exercisesuggested grade levels: 2- 6

view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

Soil is the name given to the material found above the solid rock of the earth. It consists of particles worn from rock mixed with decaying animal and vegetable matter. There are some easily recognizable common types of soil-clay, gravel, sand-which differ in texture. Some are made up of finer particles than others and in some the particles are more closely packed than in others. For these reasons, different types of soil (aquifers) differ in the degree to which they hold water.

4 clear plastic, 2-liter soda bottles 4 bowls tape plywood saw hammer nails
gravel sand topsoil clay water gauze scissors

As a precursor to this activity, use the Digital Atlas of Idaho.
To get there: Click on Atlas Home, Hydrology, Basics, then on FAQ. This site will give you some background on hydrology so you will be better prepared to do this activity with your students.

Review with your class:
1. What is The Hydrologic Cycle?
2. What is Groundwater?
3. What is an Aquifer?

This can be done before class:
1. Use the scissors to carefully cut the bottoms off of the bottles.
2. Build a small plywood stand or just use some ringstands (from chemistry teacher) to hold the bottles upside down.
3. Tape a piece of gauze over the mouth of each bottle. Fill one with gravel and sand, a second with sand and topsoil, the third with topsoil and clay, and the fourth with clay. Place bowls under each mini-aquifer to catch the drippings.
4. Pour one cup of water into the top of each bottle at exactly the same time. Observe the length of time it takes water to pass through each type of soil mixture.

Questions for discussion:
1. Which type of soil did the water pass through the fastest?
2. Which type of soil held the most water?
3. What characteristics of the soil determine how well it holds water? (density, particle size, space between particles)
4. Do you think farmers need to know which type of aquifer holds water best and which loses it fastest?

These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.

Related Lesson Topics:
Hydrology: Hydrology

Lesson Plan provided by Dr. Helen Challand and Elizabeth Brandt adapted from Science Activities from A to Z with illustrations by Herb Rudd, 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: