Beacon Lesson Plan Library

How Much Is Too Much?

Dorothy Davis


Students observe the construction and workings of an aquifer. They record and react to the effects of pollution on the aquifer.


The student writes for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes (for example, letters to persuade or request, humorous or suspenseful stories to entertain, instructions to inform).

The student makes a prediction for a new investigation using the data from a previous investigation.


-Tall clear container (eg. Small fish tank or a large clear mixing bowl)
-Small rocks (fish gravel)
-Larger rocks (about ˝ inch)
-Lime-rock (if available, you may have to purchase it)
-Water (about two liters in a plastic bottle or pitcher)
-Liquid food coloring
-Large spoon
-Large syringe (horse syringe from your local vet)
-Pencil and paper for journals
-Wire coat hanger (straighten out for use in adding air holes to the aquifer if the water does not go down on its own)
-Rubber band
-Small piece of finely woven cloth


1. Acquire and assemble all materials on materials list.
2. Prepare Reaction journals for daily use.
3. Visit Web ites listed in Weblinks for more information.
4. Locate geographic and demographic maps.
5. Practice building the aquifer prior to the classroom demonstration


1. Prior to this session, students should be familiar with the land formations in the state.

2. Assemble all above listed material for the demonstration. Be sure to place the small piece of cloth on the pointed end of the syringe (no needle) and secure with a rubber band.

3. Seat children in a semi-circle for demonstration viewing.

4. Place clear container on a flat surface in a clear viewing area for the children.

5. One of the students holds the empty syringe in the center of the container. (Be sure the pointed end of the syringe, covered with the cloth, is tight against the bottom of the container.)

6. Begin layering with the larger rocks around the syringe, Then continue with step 7.

7. Continue adding alternating layers of lime-rock, sand, small rocks, and large rocks. ( Be sure that the layers are uneven (as they are found in nature). If they are even and flat, the water will not filter through.)

8. Add water gradually until about two inches of water sits on top of the completed aquifer.

9. Children observe construction and adding of water, then write observations in their journal.

10. Place the aquifer in a safe place in the room. Do not disturb until all of the water has filtered through the aquifer. (If the water does not go down on its own, stick the straightened coathanger into the aquifer in several places to release air into the project) Add more water as needed until the water reaches the bottom of the container. (This lesson is best done on Friday and allowed to stand over the weekend.)

11. Students take about ten minutes to observe and record their observations.

12. Teacher directions:Place the container back in the demonstration position.Discuss pollution and the effect on the water cycle.Guide discussion on types of pollution that may affect the aquifer.And add food coloring to about a cup of water and pour into the container at the front for easy observation by the students.

13. The students make an observation and prediction as to the possible action of the colored water. Record observations and predictions in their journals.

14. Set the demonstration container aside.

15. Each day for a week, give the students ten minutes to observe and record their observations in their journals.

16. On Friday, after the colored water has filtered down, discuss the effect of wells, and pollution on the aquifer.

17. Replace the demonstration container in the center of the room and place the children in the semi-circle again.

18. A child holds the container from the side.

19. Grab the syringe tightly and pull up the plunger. (It will take some force)

20. The children observe the movement of the pollution and the clear water in the aquifer.

21. You may have a discussion on what has happened.

22. Students enter observations in their journals.

23. Students write a final reaction paper about what they have learned and if their prediction was correct or incorrect and why.


Assess the “Reaction Log” entries:
-completed log entry demonstrates the student’s ability to write for a variety of occasions.
-written predictions based on data collected from a previous investigation.
-written reaction paper reflects upon specific scientific observation both before and after the demonstration.

See Rubric for assessment guidelines.
Criteria for writing:
-comment on observation of layering of rocks and the effect it may have on the water movement
-comment on water movement after first day
-comment on food color movement after introduction of dye
-comment on observation of well and interaction with aquifer upon completion of project


Each group of children can make a mini aquifer and introduce a different type of pollutant. Observe, record, and react to findings. Report findings as a group to the class.
(For mini aquifer, use two liter soda bottles, do not use the syringe)
Modifications: Observations and reactions may be done orally.

Web Links

Web supplement for How Much Is Too Much?
Earth’s Ground Water

Web supplement for How Much Is Too Much?
Florida’s Gound Water

Web supplement for How Much Is Too Much?
Aquifer Storage &Recovery

Web supplement for How Much Is Too Much?
The Hydrologic Cycle

Attached Files

A rubric to help with assessment of the project.     File Extension: pdf

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