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Groundwater Simulator


 The Groundwater Simulator (GS) can be used to demonstrate numerous hydrological concepts including
  • infiltration
  •  groundwater recharge and discharge
  • the water table
  • groundwater flow
  • hydraulic gradient
  • groundwater contamination and cleanup.
Requirements: The GS can be used in a classroom that has an electric outlet and a sink. If a sink is not available in the classroom, you may use water in buckets or bottles to fill the GS and an empty  5-gallon bucket to drain water from the GS. The GS can also be used outside with a AC-DC pump or a 2-liter bottle.

Manufacturer: Envision/Crystal Scientific
Suggested Grade Levels: 6th and above
Suggested Courses: Earth Science, Environmental Science
Video Demonstration: (None available at this time)


The following directions describe the set-up of the GS with the AC aquarium pump. Please refer to the manual for complete operating directions with an AC-DC pump, or a plastic water bottle. In addition, the manual contains a description of basic groundwater concepts, a glossary, and teaching guides at three different levels, including a technical lab exercise.

  1. Close the external drain valve at the back of the water reservoir. Also close the the drain valve to the aquifer compartment located directly in front of the external drain valve.

  2. Open the lake and stream valves.

  3. Fill the water reservoir to water level mark. Water will flow through the stream valve into the aquifer compartment and saturate the sand and gravel. The water in the stream should be up to the level of the stream drain valve.

  4. Place the aquarium pump on the back wall of the simulator. Put the water tube and discharge port on the inside of the simulator. Take the lid off the pump and fill both chambers of the pump with water to prime. Do NOT run the pump dry. Plug the pump in.

  5. Slide the white piece labeled "flow control" forward to create an opening for the pump. Next, push the pump to the right through the opening so that water from the pump's water port flows onto the platform of the recharge area.

  6. The level of the water in the aquifer compartment can be raised or lowered by sliding the pump further onto the platform and/or changing the pump setting. It is important to experiment with different rates of flow through the GS. The GS will NOT overflow and no damage can be done if the aquarium pump continues to draw water and the external drain valve remains closed.

  7. Clean the GS by unplugging the pump. Use a syringe to help remove dye in the well, septic tank and UST or squirt clean water into each of these. Add a few tablespoons of bleach to the water to break down the dye and clean the GS faster and more effectively. Run an additional bottle or two of clean water to remove remaining dye from aquifer compartment. connect the external drain tube to the drain valve. Put the loose end of the tube into a 5-gallon bucket or a sink before opening the drain valve. Open and drain.
SAGE Bristol,
Feb 7, 2012, 8:33 AM