Friday, April 30, 2010

Learning About Groundwater

The eager participants hands were raised, they wanted to learn more, ask questions, offer their own comments, and be a part of the conversation.

This past month I have participated in various youth education and outreach events. Meeting with school groups and presenting hands-on activities to help them better understand groundwater. I typically start off my discussions by asking the students to tell me about groundwater, at least one student will blurt out, “It’s water in the ground!” Then I ask the class to tell me more about this water in the ground, such as what we use if for and what might be potential causes for groundwater contamination. Our conversation becomes an exchange of questions and answers, a brief lesson prepping them for an activity. “The water turned green!” the group exclaims, as they realize the water in their model has just became contaminated.

I also had the opportunity, this past month to attend the National Ground Water Association Summit/Ground Water Protection Council Spring Meeting in Denver, Colorado. At the Summit I heard many great presentations about new research, technological advances, and experiences from the field. Computer models demonstrating groundwater quality and quantity issues and the potential solutions to these problems as well as images, maps, and charts from research studies were shared. The exchange of questions and answers following the presentations was extended into conversations held during breaks and meals. Plans for future projects buzzed about as new ideas were shared.

Two very different audiences, two very different situations yet there is commonality. From the question, “What is an aquifer?” and building a model out of a clear plastic box filled with gravel to the question “What can geophysical signatures of complex subsurface processes tell us?” and an explanation demonstrated through computer modeling, groundwater is the common topic, learning is the common theme.

Have you recently learned something new related to groundwater? Or maybe shared something about groundwater with others? Share your recent groundwater conversation topics, no matter how simple or complex, let’s see what we’ve all been talking about!