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Groundwater Contamination: Trouble in Fruitvale (Developed by SEPUP)

module #FV-2

Exploring earth science concepts such as the water cycle, map making and interpretation, and groundwater pollution is the objective of this module. These concepts are used in an investigation of groundwater contamination in the fictional city of Fruitvale. Students design and carry out a plan for testing water from different parts of the city to determine the contamination’s source, severity, extent, and rate of travel. The data is then used to analyze the risk to Fruitvale’s water supply. Finally, the students read about several clean-up options and participate in a role-play of a town meeting to decide which clean-up option to use. THIS MODULE INCLUDES A TEACHER'S GUIDE


  • Water moves through the crust, oceans, and atmosphere of Earth in what’s known as the “water cycle.”
  • There are many contaminants with varying health affects. Very small concentrations of certain contaminants can have large effect on groundwater quality.
  • Earth material and structure affect groundwater flow and therefore the direction and size of contamination plumes.
  • Gathering relevant evidence is essential for thoughtful inquiry and good decision making.
  • Making decisions about complex issues often involves trade-offs and evaluating issues requires an analysis of both risks (costs) and benefits.

Content List in Groundwater Contamination: Trouble in Fruitvale (Developed by SEPUP) is as follows:

Quantity Description
1 Teacher’s Guide with reproducible masters for Student Sheets
40 Drop-controlled bottles of water samples, Well #s 1-4
32 Paper Layers
24 9 oz plastic cups
16 LAB-AIDS® Chemplates®
16 LAB-AIDS® Contaminant Plume Trays
16 Water Cycle Station Card sets
16 20 cc syringes
16 30 ml graduated cups
16 Magnifiers, 4X
16 Droppers
8 Drop-controlled bottles of "Groundwater Contaminant" solution
8 Drop-controlled bottles of Universal Indicator solution
8 Dice
1 Bottle of Clay, 500 cc
1 Bottle of Gravel, 950 cc
1 Bottle of Sand, 950 cc
1 MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets)
Number of students
Number of groups
Maximum 8 groups per period
The Fruitvale Story, Part One
Students are introduced to Fruitvale’s water problem by reading “The Mystery of Fruitvale’s Water,” and examining a map of Fruitvale.
Understanding Groundwater
Students investigate the ability of gravel, sand and clay to both absorb and release water. In Thinking More about Investigation 2, students learn more about the earth’s groundwater supply in a reading.
Exploring the Water Cycle
Students learn about the water cycle by playing a game that simulates traveling with a drop of water in Fruitvale. Students then write a story that describes traveling through the water cycle.
Interpreting Maps
Students learn to interpret the information contained on a street map, topographic map, and geologic cross- section of Fruitvale.
Modeling Groundwater Contamination
Students model the spread of groundwater contamination in an aquifer. In Thinking More About Investigation 5, students predict the extent of groundwater contamination from various sources using geologic cross-sections of Fruitvale.
Understanding Concentration
Students simulate the process of diluting contaminated water by performing a serial dilution. They also learn how to calculate the concentration of each successive, more dilute solution of the food coloring.
The Fruitvale Story, Part Two
Students find out more information about Fruitvale’s water supply and predict the most probable locations for the source of the pesticide contamination.
Testing for Pesticide Concentrations
Students design and revise a well testing plan by collecting data from some of Fruitvale’s wells.
Drawing Iso-maps
Students learn about isomaps and how they show the extent of underground contamination plumes. They learn how to draw iso-lines from a set of data and practice making iso-maps.
Making an Iso-concentration Map
Students produce an iso-concentration map of the contamination in Fruitvale.
Damage Assessment
Students compare two iso-concentration maps of Fruitvale that were made six months apart. They estimate the spreading rate of the pesticide plume and use this information to help assess the potential danger of the plume.
Decision Making
Students consider the options for cleaning up ground water by participating in a role playing simulation as members of the Fruitvale community.

This module has 12 activities which will require 14 to 22 ~50-minute class periods to complete. SEPUP modules employ the 4-2-1 model: each student is part of a team of 2 and each team partners with another team to form a group of 4 that shares some equipment.

Title Item # Price Quantity
Groundwater Contamination: Trouble in Fruitvale (Developed by SEPUP) FV-2 $395.00
Groundwater Contamination: Trouble in Fruitvale TG FV-2PM $68.25