Some of the Perryville library's younger patrons were so eager to learn about hydrogeology they could taste it.
With guidance from Vicki Stone of the University of Maryland Extension's 4-H program, children created "edible aquifers" last Wednesday morning.
The activity was part of "The Library Rocks" summer reading program sponsored by the Cecil County Public Library.
The aptly-named Stone said the event is designed to teach participants about the different layers of dirt and rock, how we use aquifers, and how cities and farms use water. "We also talk about pollution and how what we do can affect our water," Stone said. "We put a little different spin on it. A lot of the summer programs are centered around music, but I can't sing or play an instrument so I don't want to subject the children to anything of that nature."
In order to build an edible aquifer, Stone incorporated ingredients which appeal to children.
The bottom layer, called bedrock, was comprised of vanilla pudding. Next came Cheerios and chocolate chips which served as the second layer – parent rock. Golden Oreos made up the sand and clay layer and crushed original Oreos were used as topsoil. Dyed coconut shavings constituted the top layer – organic matter such as grass.
"They are weird materials but all the kids like them and they have similar qualities to the actual layers," Stone said.
Once the aquifers were constructed, Stone poured milk on top to simulate a rain storm. The experiment demonstrated water, or in this case, milk, goes through the top layers but does not permeate the bedrock.
That's the first thing eight-year-old Gus Partridge noticed when he examined the results. Gus attended the program with his sisters. Kate, 6, and Lucy, 5. Kate and Lucy agreed adding tasty toppings to a cup was their favorite part.
"A lot of our patrons have no clue about hydrogeology," said Tyler Koch, a children's librarian at the Perryville branch. "It's their first exposure to it even though it's something we use all the time. This program is a way to expose them to a new branch of science in a fun and enjoyable way and it maybe it will be something they want to pursue in the future."