Exploring Groundwater

Revising author: Bridget Garnier, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Original authors:Bridget Garnier, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Hillary Hamann, University of Denver; Victoria Yuan, FDRHS, AMNH

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Average inquiry level: Structured

This groundwater lab is designed for online, asynchronous instruction and uses Google slides (or Powerpoint) so student can use the draw features. Within this lab, students will:

  • Evaluate and conclude the seasonal and annual trends of the water table from data monitored groundwater wells;
  • Predict and assess the permeability and porosity of different substrates and rocks; 
  • Create a contour map and cross-section of the water table given data from multiple wells and draw the flow direction of water;
  • Predict and communicate the changes of the water table that could occur in response to different water-related scenarios;
  • Determine solutions for an area experiencing groundwater problems.

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This lab is appropriate for introductory geology courses, for majors or non-majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should already know:
-Basic rock and sediment types
-How to read and extract information from graphs (although, this is practiced in the lab)
-Basics about contour maps
-Basic background information about groundwater and aquifers
-Vocabulary to describe groundwater systems

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a stand-alone lab activity.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The concepts that are covered in this lab are: trends in water well data, porosity and permeability of sediments and rocks, groundwater flow and contamination, and groundwater as a resource.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This lab asks students to perform the following higher order thinking skills: analyzing and forming conclusions from well data, designing an experiment, making and revising predictions, contouring from well data, determining groundwater flow direction, applying knowledge to create a solution.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students are asked to synthesize and write conclusions that can be easily understood by the public.

Description and Teaching Materials

This lab is provided in a powerpoint file, which can be imported into Google slides (Exploring Groundwater lab.pptx). The lab has four parts and asks students to visit a few websites or view videos to gather important information. Links are embedded within the presentation, but if information is no longer available, the supplemental pdf (WellData.pdf) contains well data and the Tucson Water report.

The "Exploring Groundwater information sheet" (.docx) provides basic information about the lab, while the "Exploring Groundwater lab instructor notes" (.docx) provides a detailed explanation and tips for implementing the lab.

A key is provided (KEY Exploring Groundwater.pptx) with responses and a suggested grading rubric.

Exploring Groundwater lab file (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 13.3MB Jul28 21)

Exploring Groundwater Information Sheet (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 9kB Jul28 21) 
Exploring Groundwater lab Instructor notes file (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 9kB Jul28 21) 
Well Data and Tucson Water report (Acrobat (PDF) 23.4MB Jul28 21)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Teaching notes are provided in the "Exploring Groundwater lab instructor notes.docx" file.


A suggested point system/rubric is provided in the Key file.