Oral Presentation NCGRT/IAH Australasian Groundwater Conference 2019

Grassroots education of groundwater (243)

Rhona E. Cartwright 1
  1. KCB, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

A recent opportunity to showcase the science of hydrogeology to a local primary school allowed the presentation of an important yet relatively misunderstood scientific topic to an enthusiastic and young audience of potential future scientists. The object of the presentation was to raise awareness of hydrogeology, and highlight the role a hydrogeologist has with the management and responsibility of the precious resource of groundwater.


The presentation introduced the science of hydrogeology and the roles of a hydrogeologist to a young, impressionable and enthusiastic audience. Importantly, content was presented and links were made respectful of the audience level of experience, using the water cycle as the focal point of the discussion. The delivery of the presentation included the use of physical props, videos and an interactive Q&A session. It was important to keep the information relatable and present reasons why it was important to know this information. Examples emphasised every day activities which the listeners could relate to and how they interacted with groundwater.

The level of delivery and the enthusiasm of the audience allowed rapport to be developed, while interactive activities allowed engagement of the audience with the subject. This two-way form of interaction is something Kreamer (2016) believes to be very important when it comes to the understanding and sustainability of projects (water and sanitation and health projects specifically).

Problems in poor communication underpin challenges such as a lack of consideration for regional norms, customs, traditions or a lack of community participation. This in turn can promote the feeling of stewardship which has been observed to impact the long term outcome of a project (Breslin, 2010).

Solutions to these issues include investing time to establish communication and build rapport and understand local traditions, history and appreciation for the community. Additionally, overall involvement and engagement of the community in the project tended to enhance the sustainability of the project (Kreamer (2016) and McConville & Mihelcic (2007)).


The presentation aimed to empower future generations with knowledge and motivation to take up a positive attitude with hydrogeology and the sustainable and environmentally responsible management of groundwater resources. Passing on stewardship at a “grassroots” level has the capacity to improve sustainable management of groundwater by future generations. Further, the promotion of STEM subjects to such a young audience is also great advocacy not only for the science of hydrogeology, but for scientific career options for young women and men alike.