Wednesday, November 11, 2020

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Games and Puzzles and Coloring Sheets, Oh My!}

To give her eyes a break from virtual learning, Frannie has enjoyed diving into the dozens of crosswords, word searches, and coloring sheets from The Groundwater Foundation. Frannie knows that learning is more fun when you can be creative and she can't think of a better way to learn about groundwater. Check out some of her favorite activities below!

 Contamination Crossword - How many contamination vocabulary terms do you know?

Find all the groundwater words in this fun word search! Groundwater Word Search

Recycle Maze - Can you find your way out of this twisty maze?

Water Crossword - Review what you know about our most important resource - Water!

Show off your water cycle knowledge and complete the Water Cycle Crossword.

Wet Word Search - How many vocabulary words can you find?

Protect the Earth Coloring Sheet - Reveal your inner artist!

The Groundwater Foundation is regularly creating and releasing fun new content, so keep an eye out for updates from Frannie!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {Upcycled Halloween Spider}

Halloween is THIS WEEKEND! Frannie will be practicing social distancing, staying home instead of trick-or-treating with her friends, but she's still full of Halloween spirit! Frannie found a fun activity you can do, too - making a spooky, upcycled spider!

Here's what you need:
  • 2-liter plastic bottle
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes

What to do:
1. Clean out a 2-liter plastic bottle and remove labeling.

2. Pour black paint in the bottle, screw cap on, and shake the bottle until black paint has coated the entire bottle. This may be messy, so make sure the cap is on tight! When you're done, pour the excess paint out.

3. Let the paint dry overnight.

4. Cut the top of the bottle off and recycle.

5. Make legs for the spider by cutting the bottom of the bottle into 8 strips.

6. Bend the legs outward at the base of each strip.

7. Bend the legs inward about halfway down each strip.

8. Bend the legs inward again at the end of each strip.

9. Glue the googly eyes on your spider.

10. Decorate your house with your spooky spider!

Frannie wishes you a safe and fun Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {5 Ways (You Didn't Know!) You Used Water}

 We all know that water has a very important role in our lives. We use it to drink, to cook our food, to bathe and brush our teeth, and to water our plants or pets.  But water affects our lives in so many other ways we might not think about.  Check out these 5 unique ways that you use water!

1. Heating and Cooling. Many homes and businesses are using something called “geothermal energy” to heat and cool their buildings.  “Geo” means “from the earth” and “thermal” means heat so this type of energy uses the heat from the under the ground to regulate the temperature of a particular system.  Buildings that use this system pump a liquid, often groundwater, through a series of pipes and devices like “heat exchangers” to use the natural heat from the earth to warm up the air inside. During hot summers, a geothermal system can also cool down the air by working in reverse, absorbing the heat from inside and moving it back down into the earth.  This very efficient system costs less than other modern systems and almost none of the energy is wasted.

2. Electricity. 
Hydroelectric power is a clean, renewable, and reliable form of energy that converts the energy of falling water into electricity.  Do you know about the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, Nevada? It’s one of the nation’s largest hydropower facilities, with each wing of the plant rising nearly 20 stories for a length of 650 feet (almost 2 football fields). With 17 main turbines, the average annual generation is about 4.2 billion kilowatt-hours. That’s over 3.1 billion horsepower and enough energy to serve 1.3 million people, all by using the water!

3. Wearing Clothes. Did you know that 2.6% of the water used globally is for cotton consumption?  That cotton t-shirt that you’re wearing required a lot of water to go from growing in a field to being hung in your closet. And that’s not even taking into consideration the amount of water it takes to dye your shirt, or any other articles of your clothing, into the fun colors you like to wear.

4. Reading, writing, and printing. Did you know that in the US, we use about 69 million tons of paper and paperboard (like boxes and folders) each year? In the process of just making the paper, water is used to grow the trees, maintain the tools that are used to cut the trees, turn the trees into a pulp, and maintain the machines that turn the pulp into paper?  And that’s just to make blank paper. Water is also used to make the ink to print 2 billion books yearly or put fun cover photos on 350 million magazines.  It takes roughly 1,160 gallons of water to make a single pound of paper and that’s a lot of paper.

5. Using a computer. If you think using email, the internet, and, in general, going paperless is the perfect solution: think again. The water it takes to make a single laptop is about the same as washing 70 loads of laundry. A desktop? 1,500 gallons!  Every kind of computer and IT product demands vast quantities of “ultra-pure water”, a kind of water that highly distilled from even larger quantities of “regular” water.

So? How many did you know? If you can think of other ways that water secretly helps our lives, share them with us at

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {TAPS Manual Part 6: Improperly Constructed Hydraulic Fracturing Wells}

 Frannie's friends at the Groundwater Foundation recently published the second edition of the Training About Protecting the Source (TAPS) Manual. The manual guides users through hands-on activities that explore potential threats to groundwater and challenges them to think about what can be done to protect this key drinking water source.

This manual can be used inside the classroom and is aligned to the national Next Generation Science Standards, but Frannie loves just learning about groundwater, no matter where she is. For the next few weeks, you can join her as she works through the different activities. 

Frannie will be using the Groundwater Foundation's Awesome Aquifer Kit, but if you don't have one, you can follow along with materials that might be found around your home. This is the second part of Frannie's exploration of the TAPS Manual. You can follow the link to see what she learned about improperly operated landfillssinkholesleaky underground storage tanksimproperly abandoned wells and the over-application of fertilizer.

Today's activity is....Improperly Constructed Hydraulic Fracturing Wells.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking”, breaks up the ground deep beneath the surface in order to allow companies to more easily access oil and gas. The technique uses a mixture, or slurry, of water, chemicals, and sand and pumps it into the ground at a very high pressure. Fracking fluids can contain a variety of toxic chemicals such as diesel fuel, acids, and acetone. Grouting is the process of filling the spaces between the borehole, or the hole drilled during construction, and the well casing with an impermeable material like cement. Proper grouting and proper disposal of the fracking fluids can prevent these chemicals from leaching into the groundwater. 

For this activity, you will need:
  • Awesome Aquifer Kit
    • Plastic box
    • Gravel
    • Plastic tube
    • Hand pump or syringe
    • Nylon
    • Rubber band
  • Plastic bendable straw
    • Prepare the straw by trimming the longer end so that it's approximately 3 inches long. Poke several holes along the longer side with a pushpin to represent where the fracking fluid is expelled to release the natural gas.
  • A small cup (approximately 30 ml) of intensely colored water
  • 16 oz cup of water

Activity Steps 
1. Read through all the instructions first before you begin to build the model. Make sure you have all the needed materials and supplies.
2. Fill the plastic box with gravel until it is about ¼ full.
3. Add water so that half of the rocks are covered. (This will represent an aquifer.)
4. Create a hydraulic fracturing injection well by securely attaching the straw to the plastic tube with a rubber band. Secure the well screen (piece of nylon) to the end of the straw with an additional piece of rubber band. You may have to cut a small slit at the short end of the straw in order to get it to roll in on itself and slide into the tubing.

5. Place your hydraulic fracturing injection well on top of the gravel. Add more gravel until the box is about ½ full.
6. Fill the syringe full of the intensely dyed water, which represents fracking fluid. Attach the full syringe to the well. 

7. Pump the fluid into your aquifer by pushing on the plunger. Observe what happens to the fracking well and the water around it.

Frannie noticed that the toxic fracking fluid was escaping out of the poorly sealed section between the well casing and the injection casing. Proper grouting could have contained the chemicals better, allowing it to be pumped out with the rest of the fluid once the hard rock layer had been sufficiently broken up. If she had properly sealed and grouted her well with cement or bentonite clay, which could be represented by the modeling clay included in the Awesome Aquifer Kit, she could have prevented this dangerous contamination.