Education on Wheels

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District has a pretty handy tool when it comes to getting audiences engaged in the subjects of water conservation and water resource management—the mobile lab.

The mobile lab makes appearances throughout the year across Montgomery County, including large public events, school visits, college campuses, scouting organizations, and more. It has multiple exhibits inside, along with companion exhibits set up outside.

In 2017, the mobile lab received two new exhibits; both are pictured below. The water well exhibit lends a unique perspective on the underground components involved in pumping groundwater, the function of such components, and how each interacts with the surrounding subterranean environment.

The indoor water conservation exhibit provides a hands-on learning experience which highlights several ways individuals can conserve water in their daily routine. With measurement dials for the washing machine, faucet, toilet, and shower, water savings can be closely approximated for individuals or entire audiences. Additionally, the collective water savings can also illustrate the positive impact such savings would have on waste water treatment.

Still, the heart of the mobile lab is the aquifer model. It’s not just a generic model, either—rather, it’s a customized representation of the aquifer resources actually beneath Montgomery County. This exhibit is a crowd favorite. A flip of a switch, and the sound of thunder fills the area, which, incidentally, isn’t a bad way to get the attention of some of the younger audiences. Another flip of a switch, and rain begins to fall. Since the model shows a vertical slice of the ground, audience members can then witness what happens after the rain falls and absorbs into the ground.

It’s a great visual resource that helps audiences better understand the journey a single rain drop can potentially take. They can see the water falling through the sands of the aquifer, until eventually finding the water table. There’s more, though. There are wells in each aquifer that can pump water back to the model’s surface; the corresponding effects of that pumping can also be seen on each aquifer. There are pollution simulators which, using food coloring, show how groundwater can be contaminated from above and below.

Overall, the mobile lab is a wonderful asset to the public. Use the District’s online request form to schedule a visit. Field trips to the District’s office are also an option, schedule permitting.