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Deriving Darcy's Law: Demo and Think-Pair-Share Exercise

Karen Salvage
Binghamton University - SUNY
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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)
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This page first made public: Jul 20, 2005


This exercise involves a constant head permeameter demo, followed by a Think-Pair-Share exercise. The students derive Darcy's Law based on their brain stormed ideas.

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Senior undergraduate and introductory level graduate students.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Physics 101.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is used as the first class period introducing Darcy's Law and hydraulic conductivity.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Development of student understanding of:
(1) factors affecting fluid flow through porous media;
(2) Darcy's Law;
(3) hydraulic conductivity.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Development of the students' reasoning skills and ability to synthesis multiple concepts into a coherent whole.

Other skills goals for this activity

This exercise is used early in the semester. Use of the Think-Pair-Share approach is a deliberate choice to foster student involvement early on.

Description of the activity/assignment

This exercise begins with a demonstration of fluid flow through porous sediment using a constant head permeameter, with the students conducting the experiment and collecting the data. The demo is followed by a Think-Pair-Share exercise in which the question is posed to the class: "What could we change in order to increase flow through the system?" The class then works through their brainstormed list of ideas, discussing each and evaluating whether it is correct or a misconception. The students derive Darcy's Law qualitatively, based upon the results of the Think-Pair-Share exercise and discussions.

Determining whether students have met the goals

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