Model Well

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In this quick activity about pollutants and groundwater (page 2 of PDF under Water Clean-up Activity), learners build a model well with a toilet paper tube. Learners use food coloring to simulate pollutants and observe how they can be carried by groundwater and eventually enter water sources such as wells, rivers, and streams. This activity is associated with nanotechnology and relates to linked video, DragonflyTV Nano: Water Clean-up.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • empty coffee can
  • empty toilet paper tube
  • sand
  • gravel or aquarium rocks
  • food coloring
  • cup
  • water


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Mineral and Mining Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2008

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 741749