Thursday, June 22, 2017

BLOG: 7 Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Groundwater This Summer

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

Summer is a time for fun and adventure. Combine those with some hands-on learning about groundwater and you've got a win-win summer activity! 

Mini-terrarium
1. Build a mini-terrarium with a clear plastic cup, gravel, potting soil, a few seeds, plastic wrap, and a rubber band (get full instructions here). Learn about groundwater's role in the water cycle and in helping plants grow. It also gives kids a plant to nurture over the summer.

2. Dig a hole. Kids love dirt. Ask them to explore the hole. Is the soil warm or cool? Is it damp or dry? How does the soil change the deeper you dig? Pour a bucket of water in the hole - where did it go? It became groundwater, filling the cracks and crevices beneath the earth's surface.

Betty Crocker website
3. Make a contamination cake. Start by baking a white cake, then turn it into a poke cake (here's a recipe for a strawberry poke cake, but you can use any flavor gelatin you want). Cut a piece of cake, and talk about how the gelatin is like contaminants in groundwater, seeping into the ground (or cake). What happened to the gelatin when it was poured onto the cake? How is this like a contaminant being poured on the ground? Talk about these things while digging into a yummy piece of cake.

Edible Aquifers
4. Another yummy - but educational - dessert activity! Make an edible aquifer. Build a simple aquifer out of ice chips, cereal, ice cream, sprinkles, clear soda, and a straw. Find the complete instructions here. Have fun and be creative! Of course, the final step is to eat your aquifer creation.

5. Build an aquifer in a cup (get full instructions here). All it takes is a clear plastic cup, rock/gravel, and water. For more fun, add a clean soap or lotion pump to simulate a well and pump the groundwater out of the model aquifer.

Visit a water body
6. Visit a local lake, river, or stream. Talk about the connections between groundwater and surface water. Groundwater contributes to stream flow, and stream flow recharges groundwater. Add a community service project to your visit and clean up litter around the water body.

7. Find a cool spot in nature. What can you discover by simply looking around and listening to the surroundings? Imagine the path taken by a drop of rain from the time it hits the ground to when it reaches a river, groundwater, or the ocean. Draw a picture and/or talk about the paths it might take.

Keep the fun and learning going this summer! For more fun educational ideas, visit www.groundwater.org/kids

Thursday, June 15, 2017

BLOG: Be in Boise!

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

The City of Boise was one of the original pilot communities in the Groundwater Guardian program since it began in 1994, and it has been designated every year since. That kind of longevity and consistency has made them a leader in groundwater protection.

The Groundwater Foundation's 2017 National Conference will be held in Boise October 24-26, 2017. I've never been to Idaho, and am very much looking forward to my first visit! Boise seems like a pretty cool place, for lots of reasons:

  • It's pronounced "Boy-see" (not "Boy-zee" which is how I've always said it!)
  • It's located 2,730 feet above sea level with a population of over 250,000 within city limits (and over 680,000 in the metropolitan area)
  • It's nickname is the "City of Trees." French-Canadian fur trappers named Boise in the early 19th century. After crossing the hot, dry desert, the trappers crested a hill and saw the woods surrounding the Boise River and exclaimed "Les bois! Les bois!" ("Woods! Woods!") The wooded Boise River is now the scenic backdrop for a popular greenbelt path, and so many species of trees have been planted that today Boise is known as the "City of Trees."
  • Fort Boise was established in 1863 to keep peace in the mining camps and to protect Oregon Trail pioneers from Indian raids. The City of Boise was quickly established and served as a service center for both gold and silver miners in the nearby mountains and foothills.
There's a lot to do in Boise (besides learning about groundwater at the conference!)
Come early and/or stay late and check out some of these sights and attractions:
  • Basque Museum & Cultural Center - Only one block from the conference hotel, this unique attraction provides a look into the heritage of the Basque communities of Idaho. www.basquemuesum.com 
  • Greenbelt/Boise River - The Boise River Greenbelt stretches 25 miles along the Boise River, providing place for fishing, biking, roller blading, jogging, or a leisurely stroll. Bikes are available for rent at a variety of bike shops. www.cityofboise.org/parks
  • Downtown Muesums - Find art, history, human rights, and more all within walking distance of downtown Boise. www.boise.org
  • Southwest Wine Region - The history of Idaho wines dates back to 1864 when the first grapes were planted. A perfect combination of soil, climate and water, Idaho is home to more than 50 wineries to explore. www.idahowines.org
  • Idaho State Capitol - In the heart of downtown, the State Capitol of Idaho is one of the state's most treasured buildings. It's the only Capitol in the nation heated by geothermal water. The building is open 24/7. www.capitolcommision.idaho.gov
To find more attractions and to plan your trip to Boise, visit www.boise.org. Early bird registration for the 2017 conference will open in the next few weeks. Sign up for our newsletter to receive conference updates. We'll see you in Boise!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {Awesome Aquifer Kit: Improperly Managed Landfill}

This week in Frannie’s exploration of the Awesome Aquifer Kit is all about why you should care what goes into your landfill.
 
We all know how to pick up litter and throw it away properly, but where does our trash go and how is it taken care of after the garbage truck drives away?

That’s right! The landfill!

All of the gross things we don’t want near are homes are going to a landfill.  When it rains, the water infiltrates the landfill.  In other words, it filters down through all the layers of trash to reach the earth.  Once the water has trickled down through all that trash, it starts to look and smell like a garbage soup.  Scientists call this soup “leachate”.

Leachate then seeps down into the ground where it can interact with our groundwater, the same water we pull from our wells to drink and use in preparing our food.  If we are not careful of what we put in the trash or if the operators of the landfill are not careful to check the garbage trucks for harmful and toxic items, then our wells are in danger of critical pollution.

Luckily, there are special landfills for dangerous chemicals.  These can be underground storage tanks, septic systems, or recycling plants that treat or transform toxic trash until it is useable again.  You can help at home by doing more recycling, even for items like broken electronics, batteries and light bulbs!

You can learn more about landfills here and visit your local landfill to see what they are doing to keep your ground and groundwater safe.