Teach the Earth > Hydrogeology > Hydrogeology, Soils, Geochemistry 2013 > Teaching Activities > Hydraulic Conductivity of Porous Media Exercise

Hydraulic Conductivity of Porous Media Exercise

Laura Ruhl, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 6, 2013


This activity provides the hydrogeology students an exercise to understand specific discharge, hydraulic conductivity, and porous media. They will actually use a Darcy column to gather data on porous media, as well as calculate and understand the hydrologic properties of the materials.



This is an upper level course which is an elective course for our traditional geology majors and a required course for our environmental geology majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students need to have an understanding of porosity, specific discharge, and hydraulic conductivity. This exercise is a great addition to lecture material.

How the activity is situated in the course

I use this in-class exercise as a supplement to my lecture material. It gives them hands-on experience in performing the darcy experiment.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The student, in completing this exercise, should be able to calculate specific discharge, hydraulic conductivity, and have an understanding of how these can change with different porous media and space constraints.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This exercise requires collecting and analyzing data, as well as synthesizing the concepts presented in class during this exercise.

Other skills goals for this activity

This exercise also involves the use of simple analytical equipment and working in groups.

Description and Teaching Materials

The instructor's notes are in an included file complete with a material list, set-up instructions, pictures of the apparatus built, and instructions.

Hydraulic Conductivity of Porous Media (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 100kB Jun17 13)
Instructor's Notes for Hydraulic Cond Exercise (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 3.8MB Jun17 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


The students should be able to answer all of the questions if they meet the goals of this activity.

References and Resources