Groundwater models teach all ages about the water cycle, and how water and pollutants travel

Using a watershed or groundwater model simulator makes it easier to teach about water and geology beneath our feet.

A look undergroundSince everyone lives in a watershed, or an area of land that drains to a common body of water, it seems as though everyone should understand that impacts in one part of the watershed can affect areas far away from that location. The water that you can see above ground in the form of surface water, the water below ground in the form of groundwater or the water that fills the cracks and spaces between rock and soil particles, are connected through the water cycle. Water can move contamination on the ground or in surface water into the underlying groundwater supply.

In general, we don’t often think about things we cannot see that happens in the soil and rock below our feet. One great way to learn about these important concepts in an extremely visual way is through the use of a water cycle or groundwater model simulator.

These models are a great visual way to teach concepts such as water cycle, watershed, water table, groundwater, aquifer, saturated and unsaturated zones, glacial drift, bedrock, soil types and the specifics of which can influence whether water resources are protected or at risk for contamination, stormwater runoff, municipal and onsite wastewater treatment, point- and non-point source pollution, and erosion. In addition, the model can illustrate lawn and garden practices that can impact water quality as well as best management practices that can help protect Michigan’s water resources.

There are several ways an Educator can obtain or access these models:

For additional information about groundwater, print or electronic copies of the MSU Extension Bulletin (WQ54), “Groundwater: Everyone’s Resource, Everyone’s Responsibility.” Home*A*Syst Guide (WQ51) also helps assess your potential for environmental risks in and around your home. Both are available at no cost through the MSU Extension Bookstore or electronically from the MSU Extension Oakland County website.