Articles | Volume 16, issue 9
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 3075–3082, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-16-3075-2012

Special issue: Hydrology education in a changing world

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 3075–3082, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-16-3075-2012

Research article 03 Sep 2012

Research article | 03 Sep 2012

Physical models for classroom teaching in hydrology

A. Rodhe A. Rodhe
  • Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavägen 16, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract. Hydrology teaching benefits from the fact that many important processes can be illustrated and explained with simple physical models. A set of mobile physical models has been developed and used during many years of lecturing at basic university level teaching in hydrology. One model, with which many phenomena can be demonstrated, consists of a 1.0-m-long plexiglass container containing an about 0.25-m-deep open sand aquifer through which water is circulated. The model can be used for showing the groundwater table and its influence on the water content in the unsaturated zone and for quantitative determination of hydraulic properties such as the storage coefficient and the saturated hydraulic conductivity. It is also well suited for discussions on the runoff process and the significance of recharge and discharge areas for groundwater. The flow paths of water and contaminant dispersion can be illustrated in tracer experiments using fluorescent or colour dye. This and a few other physical models, with suggested demonstrations and experiments, are described in this article. The finding from using models in classroom teaching is that it creates curiosity among the students, promotes discussions and most likely deepens the understanding of the basic processes.