Incredible Edible Aquifer
Objective: The students will be able to construct an aquifer in order to illustrate the geologic
formation of an aquifer, the different types of aquifers, how aquifers become contaminated and
the need to protect and conserve ground water resources.
In Maryland, groundwater supplies about 38 percent of the water that county and city
water departments supply to households and businesses. It provides drinking water for more
than 97 percent of the rural populations who do not get their water delivered to them.
Groundwater is stored in an aquifer, which is like a giant sponge. Water fills pores, spaces
and crevices between rock and sediment. The water contained in an aquifer is extracted by
drilling wells through soil and rock. There are two types of aquifer that groundwater can be taken
from, a confined aquifer and an unconfined aquifer. A confined aquifer is an aquifer that is
overlain by one or more layers of impermeable rock or soil that restricts water to within the
aquifer. An unconfined aquifer is an aquifer that is not overlain by a layer of impermeable rock or
Most water that is taken from an aquifer is clean and pure, since an aquifer acts as a
natural filter that traps sediment and other particles such as bacteria and provides natural
purification of the groundwater flowing through them. Unfortunately, groundwater can become
contaminated by improper use or disposal of chemicals such as fertilizers and household
cleaners. These chemicals can then percolate downward through soil and rock into an aquifer,
and eventually into drinking water wells. Contamination of an aquifer poses a significant threat to
Chocolate Chips Spoons
Clear plastic cup Vanilla Ice cream
Clear soda Graham Cracker Crumbs
1. Fill the bottom of the clear plastic cup with a 1/2 inch layer of chocolate chips.
2. Add enough soda to just cover the chocolate chips
3. Add a 1 inch layer of ice cream, making sure it comes in contact with the sides of the cup.
4. Cover the ice cream with a layer of sprinkles.
5. Cover the sprinkles with a layer of graham cracker crumbs.
6. Using a straw “drill” a “well” into the center of the aquifer.
7. Begin to “pump” water from the well by slowly sucking on the straw. Observe what
happened to the groundwater.
8. Sprinkle green sugar over the top of the well. Then, pour a small amount of soda over the
top (1-2 tablespoons). Observe what happens to the soda and the green sugar.
Create a diagram of your aquifer in the space below. Label the following parts:
Gravel/soil saturated with water
Gravel/soil not saturated with water
1. What type of aquifer did you create? How do you know?
2. What did the following items represent:
a. Soda in chocolate chips:
b. Ice cream:
c. Chocolate chips:
e. Graham cracker crumbs:
f. Green sugar:
g. Pouring soda over aquifer:
3. Discuss the observations made during the activity with those sitting at your table. How did
your aquifer compare with other aquifers created at your table?
4. Do you think a contaminated aquifer can be cleaned? Explain.
5. State two reasons why we should conserve groundwater.
6. State three ways that we can protect groundwater.