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New Jersey's Water

Objectives: Learn about New Jersey's aquifers and the pressures on our water supply.

Materials: two clear plastic cups, dishpan, aquarium sand, small rocks or gravel, measuring spoon, water, Deep Water Student Worksheet 1

Time Required: 40 minutes, plus project time

Getting Started:

1. Place two empty cups in a dishpan. Fill one cup with two inches of sand, and the other with two inches of small rocks or gravel. Give one student the measuring spoon and ask him or her to slowly add water to the cups, one spoonful at a time.

2. Ask the observing students to record  how much water can be added to each cup before standing water appears on the surface of the sand or rocks. Ask: Which material holds more water, sand or rocks? (Rocks)

3. Explain: Water exists underground in rocky deposits called aquifers. Different types of rock or soil hold different amounts of water.

Using the Student Worksheet:

4. Distribute Deep Water Student Worksheet 1 and read it together.

5. Explain: Human activities can affect water supplies both aboveground and belowground. Destroying wetlands and using too much land for agriculture or  urban development can cause flooding  and slow down the rate at which aquifers  are recharged. 

6. Ask: What aquifer(s) underlie New Jersey's major cities? (Most of the state's biggest cities sit atop the Newark Group aquifers.) Discuss what types of pressure large populations might place on the aquifers.

Class Project (for advanced classes):

7. Ask students to form small teams and create a diorama or poster display to show changes in New Jersey's landscape over time. Each team should focus on a different region of the state. Students should highlight how the changing landscape has influenced local water supplies over time.
Tips: For historical maps of New Jersey, visit mapmaker.rutgers.edu/MAPS.html. For information about New Jersey's population and demographics in the past and present, visit quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/34000lk.html.

Build a Model Aquifer:
Build a model aquifer with your class!

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