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KQED Quest


4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Videos, 5 minutes, 11 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, USA - South, USA - Midwest, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota

What is Groundwater?

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  • This video defines the different types and levels of groundwater, such as springs, the water table, the saturated and unsaturated zones, and aquifers, including the High Plains Aquifer.
  • Students will learn about how the water cycle produces surface water and aquifers, and possible negative human impacts on the aquifers.
Teaching Tips


  • The article clearly explains how teachers can utilize the video.
  • Embedded within the article are phrases that link to related videos so teachers can expand the lesson as needed. 
  • Kid-friendly animation will keep younger students' attention as they view the information.

Additional Prerequisites

  • A definition list will be helpful due to the rigorous vocabulary. The article lists many content-specific words that teachers may need to define.
  • Teachers may need YouTube access.
  • Students should be familiar with the water cycle.


  • This video is just one in a vast collection, all of which are easily obtained by clicking the categories at the top of the webpage, so teachers will have access to learning resources about hundreds of informational topics.
  • Teachers can have students read the article aloud and work in small groups to create a vocabulary list before watching the video.
  • Science teachers can have students watch the video and then research local water sources.
  • This video can give background information for a lesson about how human actions, such as pollution and urban expansion, impact groundwater.
Scientist Notes
The video in this resource defines what groundwater is and describes the water cycle, aquifers, and other related topics. The video doesn't mention climate impacts on groundwater beyond a discussion about droughts and rain. The information presented is accurate, and this resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • MS-ESS2-4 Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth's systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity.
      • 5-ESS2-2 Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • 5-LS1-1 Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.5.6-8 Analyze the combinations of cultural and environmental characteristics that make places both similar to and different from other places.
      • D2.Geo.10.3-5 Explain why environmental characteristics vary among different world regions.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.
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