What You’ll Need
- Clear cups
- Ice cream scoop
- Blue/red food coloring
- Drinking straw
- Vanilla ice cream or fruit sorbet
- Clear soda
- Small gummy bears, chocolate chips, crushed cookies, breakfast cereal or crushed ice
- Variety of colored cake decorations sprinkles or sugars
- Fill your cup one-third of the way full with gummy bears, chocolate chips or crushed ice (this represents the sand/gravel).
- Add enough soda to just cover the candy/ice (this represents the water).
- Add a layer of ice cream to serve as a “confining layer” over the water-filled aquifer.
- Then add more “sand/gravel” on top of the confining layer.
- Colored sugar and sprinkles represent soils and should be sprinkled over the top to create a porous top layer.
- Add the food coloring to the soda. The food coloring represents contamination.
- Can you think of any examples of contamination?
- Watch what happens when the contamination is poured on top of the aquifer.
- Using a drinking straw, drill a well into the center of the aquifer.
- Slowly begin to pump the well by sucking on the straw. This shows a decline in the water table.
- Notice how the contaminants get sucked into the well area and end up in the groundwater by leaking through the confining layer.
- Now recharge your aquifer by adding more soda. This represents a rain shower.
Gummy bears/chocolate chips/crushed ice = sand and/or gravel
Soda = water
Ice cream = confining layer
Sprinkles/sugar = porous top layer
Food coloring = contamination
Drinking straw = well
What We Learned
- The ground holds water called groundwater and some people use a well to pump the water out of the ground for their own use.
- There are many layers of groundwater—the unsaturated zone (the dry gummy bears, chocolate chips or crushed ice), the saturated zone (the wet gummy bears, chocolate chips or crushed ice), the porous top layer (the sprinkles/sugar) and any possible contaminants (the food coloring).