Groundwater Consulting Lab

Karen Kortz
Community College of Rhode Island
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  1. This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection

    Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review 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

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  2. This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see

This page first made public: May 1, 2008


Students are given a real-world scenario in this lab exercise in which they must determine the extent of groundwater contamination while staying within a budget. They progressively request more information and summarize their findings on a map.

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Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must be able to determine the direction of the flow of groundwater based on a water table contour map.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is part of a lab on groundwater.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Predict movement of groundwater contaminants

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Analysis of data; formation and testing of hypothesis; synthesis of data

Other skills goals for this activity

Working in groups

Description of the activity/assignment

In groups, students are given a scenario of a leaking underground storage tank. They must decide where to sample on the map while staying within budget. Students progressively collect more data and use them to make an interpretation of the direction of groundwater flow and extent of the contamination. The activity requires that students use their limited resources to solve a real-world problem.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The final map on which students draw their interpretation of the direction and extent of the contamination is reviewed.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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