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Groundwater, Beneath the Surface

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This lighthearted animation takes us beneath the surface to see groundwater in action. Watch anthropomorphized drops of groundwater travel through this system. A smiling character with a shovel digs us down to the water table, allowing us to flow through the water cycle and thus making the process much easier to understand.

This animation is part of a four-part educational series on Ground Water.

Pre-Discussion Questions for Ground Water

  • What is water called beneath the surface?
  • What are some dangers facing aquifers and groundwater?

Post-Discussion Questions for Ground Water

  • Why is groundwater so vital to us?
  • How does the water cycle operate?

Extension Activity

Name as many parts of the water cycle as you can and describe the function of each.
Possible activity: Draw a water cycle with as many parts as you can to show how they all interact, and then replay the animation to check and fill in the rest.
Compare groundwater to aquifers. How are they alike and how are they different?
How are aquifers replenished or depleted?

Links to Learn More

  • Interactive Water Cycle Graphic, USGS  - A fun interactive water cycle diagram that describes the moving and changing forms for water.
  • The USGS Water Science School, USGS -Educational activity on how much water it takes to grow a hamburger.
  • Groundwater Facts, National Groundwater Association - 53 Billion Gallons a day used for agriculture: "Irrigation accounts for the largest use of groundwater in the United States. Some 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater are used daily for agricultural irrigation from 407,923 wells.
  • Size of High Plains Aquifer, Encyclopedia of the Great Plains - History and information on the Ogallala Aquifer.
  • A Fresh Water Story, National Geographic - Fun interactions on groundwater, surface water and other related resources.

NGSS Correlations

  • Performance Expectation: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes. MS - ESS2, Earth & Science Systems: Earth's Systems
  • Disciplinary Core Idea: The Role of Water in Earth’s Surface Processes Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land. MS - ESS2.C
  • Science & Engineering Practices: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions.


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