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Aquifer Diagram

An aquifer is a layer of rock 15 - 600 feet underground that is saturated with water. Typically, there is enough available water that it can be be pumped out of the ground and used for drinking water or other purposes. Certain areas of the U.S. have aquifers that are constantly replenished through rain and other natural processes. Some aquifers span several hundreds of miles while others can be quite a bit smaller.

It's important that we are very careful to not put dangerous chemicals onto the ground or down the drain because they can end up in the aquifer and poison our valuable source of water.

Do you want to make your own aquifer? Ask a parent to help you find the materials listed below, and follow the instructions to build your own miniature Aquifer-In-A-Cup!

Materials Needed:

  • Clear glass or cup
  • 1/2 cup of gravel
  • 1/2 cup of sand
  • Straw
  • Water

Add the layer of sand

This represents the rocks, gravel and sand that are in the aquifer.

Add water and make observations

How does the sand and water interact?

Add the layer of gravel

This represents the “land” and everything that’s on top of the aquifer (soil, boulders, grass, buildings, people).

Make a slope with your "land" layer.

Make sure you have enough water to form a pocket on the side that represents surface water (the Spokane River) but not too much or your land will flood.

Dig a well!

Take a plastic straw and insert it through your land layer and all the way to the aquifer. Make sure you don’t dig a well through the river!

Have you ever wondered where your water comes from?

Do you want to learn how to build an aquifer in a cup?

What can you do to protect the Aquifer?


KSPS Aquifer Educator Kristen Zimmer presents the ever popular Aquifer-in-a-Cup workshop to Mrs. Hurst's 3rd Grade at Garfield Elementary in Spokane. The workshop is sponsored by the Spokane Aquifer Joint Board (SAJB). Learn more at

Schedule a Class Demonstration

Are you interested in teaching your students about aquifer protection in your classroom? Contact our representatives today to get more information about our program and to schedule a demonstration for your students!