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Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 2003-65

A Preliminary Teacher's Guide to the Interactive Ground-water Tutor

by P. Allen Macfarlane, M.A. Townsend, G. Bohling, S. Case, and A. Reber
Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas

KGS Open File Report 2003-65
Dec. 2003


Using the interactive ground-water tutor, students take on the role of an environmental consultant and apply the principles of ground-water flow and well hydraulics to solve a simulated contamination problem. Introduction of the tutor should follow basic instruction covering the hydrologic (water) cycle, the principles of ground-water flow, and concepts related to the effect of wells withdrawing or adding water on an aquifer. Follow-up activities can range from discussion of environmental policy and ethics to the role of technology in solving societal and environmental problems. The tutor is appropriate for grade 11-12 and introductory, undergraduate Earth and Environmental Science classes.

Students use ground water and other science, mathematics, and geography concepts to simulate the cleanup of a chemical spill from a ruptured pipeline. The chemical spill has contaminated an aquifer and if unchecked, the contaminants will travel through the aquifer from the spill site, seep into a nearby river, and pollute a downstream public water supply. In this exercise, the student plays the role of an environmental consultant hired by the pipeline owner solve this environmental problem. The consultant's objective is to eliminate the contamination from the aquifer in the shortest amount of time for the least cost to the pipeline owner. Well installation, chemical analyses of water samples from wells, and operation of the wells used for remediation have associated with them time and money costs and in some cases, regulatory requirements also have an associated time cost. In the first phase of the tutor, the student uses the concepts of hydraulic gradient, the porosity and permeability properties of aquifer materials, Darcy's law, and average ground-water velocity to estimate the location of the contaminants in the aquifer at any given time. Locating the contamination requires the student to install monitoring wells in the aquifer. In the second part of tutor, the student uses the concepts of cone of impression, cone of depression, zone of influence, and capture zone to design a wellfield to remove the contaminants from the aquifer. The wellfield consists of production wells or a production well/injection well couplet and as it is operated, students observe the simulated removal of the contaminants from the aquifer. The ground-water tutor gives students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of ground-water systems in the context of a simulated real-world situation.

The complete report is available as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

PreliminaryTeachersGuide.pdf (2.8 megs)

To read this file, you will need the Acrobat PDF Reader, available free from Adobe.

Kansas Geological Survey, Geohydrology
Placed online December 2003
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