Scott Bair

geosciences

Ohio State University-Main Campus

Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects

Project Leader on this Project

SCIENCE IN THE COURTROOM part of A Civil Action - The Woburn Toxic Trial
This website is designed to help students and instructors use the teaching modules and resource collections from the famous trial described in "A Civil Action" in science and interdisciplinary courses in high school and college.

Activities (4)

'A Civil Action' 1-D Transport Game part of Cutting Edge:Hydrogeology:Activities
The 'A Civil Action' 1-D Transport Game is executed in an EXCEL spreadsheet and is designed to help students learn why models are used by scientists and engineers and what procedures must be met to construct a predictive model by simulating the transport of TCE from W.R. Grace to the area of municipal wells G and H. The lure to students is that these concepts are presented within the context of the famous 'A Civil Action' trial. The assignment compares the development of a predictive groundwater model with the steps involved in the scientific method and with the path of a lawsuit through the U.S. court system.

Using the EXCEL Woburn Flow and Transport Model to Teach Modeling Concepts part of Cutting Edge:Hydrogeology:Activities
Modeling ties together many subjects taught in an introductory hydrogeology course. The goals of this activity are for students to learn why scientists and engineers use models, what types of models are commonly used, and why the steps involved in constructing a predictive model are similar to the steps followed in the 'scientific method.' The Woburn Flow & Transport Model, a series of linked EXCEL worksheets developed by Marinko Karanovich, a former M.S. student at Ohio State University under the guidance of Professor Scott Bair, can be used by students to test the hypotheses (testimony) espoused by the three experts witnesses in the famous 'A Civil Action' trial.

TCE Transport to Woburn Wells G and H part of Cutting Edge:Hydrogeology:Activities
Transport of TCE to municipal wells G and H in Woburn, Massachusetts and link between the consumption of the polluted water and the cluster of childhood leukemia cases in east Woburn in were the central scientific issues in the award-winning book 'A Civil Action' and the movie of the same name. The animation shows the movement of TCE plumes from 1960 to 1986 from 5 known sources of TCE contamination near wells G and H in plan view and two cross section views. The animation shows how differences in geologic materials, proximity to the buried valley underlying the Aberjona River, and pumping rates and schedules of the two municipal wells control flow paths, TCE arrival times, and TCE concentrations in the municiapl wells.

Induced Infiltration Animation: Woburn Wells G & H and the Aberjona River part of Cutting Edge:Hydrogeology:Activities
Induced infiltration of surface water into an unconfined aquifer by municipal wells is a common occurrence and an increasingly important regulatory issue across the U.S. The role of the Aberjona River in providing induced infiltration to contaminated municipal wells G and H in Woburn, Massachusetts was one of the critical hydrologic concepts misunderstood by the jury in the famous 'A Civil Action' trial. The animation created by Martin van Oort (M.S., 2005) based on the research of Maura Metheny (M.S., 1998; Ph.D., 2004), two former graduate students at Ohio State University, shows changes in the percentage of river water reaching the two municipal wells, changes in the length of the river reach captured by the wells, and changes in the depth of flow of river water into the aquifer

Other Contributions (3)

Creating the Timeline part of A Civil Action - The Woburn Toxic Trial:Instructor Materials:1 - Timeline of Events
This activity familiarizes students with the people and events leading up to the Woburn Toxic Trial, the shenanigans of the attorneys during the trial, and the aftermath of the trial. Students need to read the book "A Civil Action" and view the movie during which they develop a timeline of events and a list of people. These materials can be used later to help conduct a mock trial.

Water-Level Maps part of A Civil Action - The Woburn Toxic Trial:Instructor Materials:4 - Groundwater Flow
In this module students learn some of the fundamental concepts of groundwater flow including measurement of water levels, hydraulic heads, construction of potentiometric surfaces, construction of flowpaths, and calculation of groundwater flow velocities and traveltimes. The goals of this module are to learn how to contour irregularly spaced data (water-level measurements made in observation wells), how to draw flowpaths on a contoured water-table map, how to measure hydraulic gradients from a contoured water-table map, and how to compute flow velocities and traveltimes using Darcy's law. The goals are applied to examining flowpaths of groundwater moving from the W.R. Grace and Beatrice properties and to computing traveltimes along these flowpaths. The EXCEL spreadsheet requires students to contour two sets of water-level data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey. One set of data was collected prior to wells G and H operating and the potentiometric surface represents the configuration of the water table during times between 1964 and 1979 when wells G and H were not operating. The other set of data was collected after wells G and H had pumped for 30 days at their average operating rates and the potnetiometric surface approximates the typical configuration of the water table when wells G and H were operating together between 1964 and 1979. These two contour maps with selected flowpaths drawn on them and and a map of the drawdown created by pumping wells G and H after 30 days of continuous pumping represent three of the major pieces of evidence to be interpreted by students and presented in the mock trial. The traveltimes of along flowpaths emanating from the Beatrice property and from the W.R.Grace property also are important to the mock trial.

Timeline Activity page part of A Civil Action - The Woburn Toxic Trial:Instructor Materials:1 - Timeline of Events
This activity familiarizes students with the people and events leading up to the Woburn Toxic Trial, the shenanigans of the attorneys during the trial, and the aftermath of the trial. Students need to read the book "A Civil Action" and view the movie during which they develop a timeline of events and a list of people. These materials can be used later to help conduct a mock trial.


Events and Communities

Geology and Human Health Participants: Presenter

Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future Participants

Developing Civil Action Assessment Instruments 2008 Participants: Leader

Hydrogeology Workshop 2005: Leader