Bringing visual groundwater teaching tools and field experiences into K-12 teaching

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8:30am-11:30am Tate 170


Peter Kang, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Carmen Gavin Vanegas, South High School
Mathew Winbigler, Cloquet High School
Michael Chen, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Did you know that about 99% of global unfrozen freshwater is stored in groundwater systems? Many people are aware of the need to protect the surface water in our lakes and streams, but most do not know much about groundwater due to its invisibility. This engaging 3-day workshop is designed for K-12 teachers and anyone who would like to educate the general public about groundwater. Conveners consist of groundwater scientists and K-12 teachers who will bring their expertise to help you come up with tangible outcomes that can be used in your classroom. The workshop includes hands-on activities with visual groundwater teaching tools and a field trip to groundwater research and teaching site on the UMN campus. Through this workshop, you will develop a deeper understanding of the importance of groundwater as a critical water resource, and also integrate groundwater-related materials into your existing curricula.


Groundwater is arguably the most important source of freshwater on Earth but often not covered enough in standard K-12 curricula. We would like to change that with you through this workshop! Through this 3-day workshop, participants will learn about the fundamentals of groundwater science, the importance of groundwater to society, and how to integrate this key water resource into K-12 curricula through field experiences and simple visual teaching tools.

On the first day, participants will learn about the basics of groundwater and will be introduced to visual groundwater teaching tools that use common materials to illustrate major features of groundwater flow. On the second day, participants will apply their learning on a field tour of a groundwater research site on the UMN campus, including a discussion of how to use field experiences to help students understand issues affecting groundwater locally. On the third day, participants will work with instructors to develop concrete ideas for how to incorporate what they've seen and learned in the first two days into their own teaching curricula. Participants are encouraged to bring any materials or lesson plans they already use to teach about groundwater.

Target Audience

This workshop is primarily designed for K-12 science teachers, but any earth educators who would like to educate the general public about groundwater or want to learn more about this vital resource are welcome to join us!


As a result of participation in the workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Learn about the fundamentals of groundwater flow and groundwater contamination
  • Incorporate hands-on visual groundwater teaching tools that illustrate key aspects of groundwater flow into their curriculum
  • Learn how to incorporate field experiences and data into groundwater and other earth science-related curricula
  • Learn about basic methods used to study groundwater in the field


Each day will include an introduction to the topic(s) for the day, collaborative activities designed to familiarize participants with key concepts, collaborative discussions on adapting materials to the classroom, participants working on materials for their own classes, and summary discussion and reflection at the end of each day. On Day 1, we will focus on learning the fundamentals of groundwater science and introducing visual groundwater teaching tools. On Day 2 we will have a field trip that includes visiting fractured rock outcrops, springs, and an on-campus groundwater contaminated site. On Day 3, we will have dedicated time for bringing the materials and ideas learned in Day 1&2 into participants' classrooms.

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