This summer, Kirstin Gruver, our Flathead River Steward, led an ‘Edible Aquifer’ activity for the local Boys and Girls Club in Kalispell. The activity is designed to introduce young people to aquifers in a fun and engaging way. Club members, kids between 6 and 11 years old, learned how aquifers work and how ground water can be susceptible to pollutants.
“In the Edible Aquifer activity, kids get to create their own aquifers and eat them,” said Gruver. “We use various foods to create different layers of the aquifer, including gummy bears, chocolate chips, and ice. These represent the gravels and sediment in the aquifer.” The “gravel soils” were then saturated with a clear soft drink, just as water saturates the aquifer.
Once the aquifer was built, kids used a straw to “drill a well” in the aquifer. They quickly drank the liquid and hence, depleted their aquifer of its water source. Gruver discussed how various water uses in a watershed tap into our aquifers, and ways to conserve water to avoid depleting them.
Next, kids sprinkled powdered Kool-Aid on top of their aquifer to represent various pollutants. By pouring soda to simulate rain, kids witnessed how the “pollutants” quickly reached and contaminated their groundwater. The club members then discussed ways to prevent pollutants from entering our aquifers.
Despite the sticky mess, the kids then got to eat their aquifers. They are now able to explain what an aquifer is, why it is important, and ways to we can protect it.