Water Underground

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
Many people get water from a source deep underground, called groundwater. In this activity learners will make a model to explore this hidden water, and see how it connects to the other bodies of water. The model uses light-colored gravel in combination with red & blue colored water to allow learners to investigate the movement of groundwater and its potential contamination. Step-by-step instructions are included with photos along with safety recommendations. Activity guide includes a "What's going on?" explanation and relevant connections to the importance of groundwater and pollution.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Clear plastic bin (at least as large as a shoebox)
  • Small white gravel, enough to fill about half of the plastic container
  • Colander or strainer
  • 1 L (34 oz) of water in a container
  • 250 mL (about 8 oz of water in a separate container)
  • Blue and red food coloring
  • Soap dispenser pump, rinsed (pump only, not container)
  • Tape (most kinds will work)
  • Old pair of pantyhose or other thin stockings, or thin piece of cotton
  • Scissors
  • Rubber band
  • 2 small, clear drinking cups


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
      • Oceans and Water
      • Biosphere
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Human Impact


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DIY Science Apps


  • , The Regents of the University of California, 2015

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, DRL1114663