The Illinois River Watershed in northwestern Arkansas and northeastern Oklahoma is blessed with an abundance of underground springs.  In fact, many of our cities are named after those springs: Cave Springs, Elm Springs, Springdale, Siloam Springs, and so on!  In this edition of Nature’s Classroom, we explore the world underneath our feet with an activity focused on soils and groundwater.  This activity will introduce your students to a few of the types of soils through which water percolates in order to recharge our groundwater supply.


Groundwater Illustration

Teamed up with the deep roots of native plants,

soil is perhaps one of nature’s best water filters 

Photo: Environmental Protection Agency

Groundwater.  It’s there and it’s important, but it’s also easy to forget about what happens underneath the surface of the Illinois River Watershed.  Historically, many people in our area have relied on our area’s plentiful groundwater supply for their families and their homes.

A lot of this groundwater is generated when stormwater infiltrates through soils into underground aquifers.  Certain types of soils allow water to percolate through the ground faster than others, though, and that is a major factor in determining where families dig their wells.

EPA Ground Water Movement Activity

Groundwater Movement Activity

Source: Sonoma County Water Agency

For this activity, you’ll want a fairly large area for your students to stand up and move around.  Students will learn the basic characteristics of gravelly, sandy, and clay soils by mimicking and actively demonstrating the path of percolating water.

Print the attached PDF  for specific instructions and objectives!

We know your students will enjoy it too!


Related Posts:

Nature’s Classroom: The Water Cycle

Nature’s Classroom: Our Changing Land and Water

Water Proof: 4 Ways to Protect Your Groundwater