VanCrest of Payne residents

Residents of VanCrest of Payne recently had the opportunity to create their own model to simulate how sinkholes are formed.

Paulding SWCD

PAULDING — There is always time to learn something new even if we think we have learned everything we possibly could. Each month, residents at the Gardens of Paulding, VanCrest of Payne, Antwerp Manor, and Country Inn have the opportunity to enjoy learning about a wide variety of environmental topics ranging from wildlife to sinkholes. Each session offers the opportunity for a discussion on the current month’s topic along with a hands-on activity to have fun while learning. Paulding Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) enjoys this opportunity to provide educational programming to all residents of Paulding County.

One of the favorite discussion topics with the residents is sinkholes. For this program, residents learned the basics of sinkholes, where and how they form, and the types of sinkholes that can occur in nature.

Sinkholes are natural depressions in the landscape that can occur due to erosion or underground water. As water makes its way through the ground, it is slowly eroding rocks and minerals that make up the soil. Water flow can increase to the point that it can wash the underground structure of the land away and once this happens; the ground becomes too weak to support the weight above it and collapse opening a sinkhole.

Sinkholes can happen anytime and anyplace in nature. Sinkholes are most prominent in areas that have a bedrock made of limestone, which is a highly erodible material. Humans can help to lead to the formation of sinkholes. When we partake in activities such as drilling, mining, construction, broken water or drain pipes, improperly compacted soil after excavation work or even heavy traffic, sinkholes are liable to form.

There are many different types of sinkholes that vary in the time it takes for them to form along with the conditions in which they will form. At any rate, no matter what conditions the sinkholes form and how fast, all sinkholes present their own dangers.

To help simulate the process of sinkhole formation, residents had the opportunity to make their own sinkhole in a cup. Each resident received an 8 oz. styrofoam cup with a hole poked in the bottom, coffee filter circle, bottom of a 2-liter bottle, sugar, sand, paper rolled into a tube, and water. The sugar represents the limestone rock in the ground, the sand represents the soil, and water represents the groundwater eroding the limestone. The filter is placed over the hole in the styrofoam cup, the tube placed over the hole, and sand was filled in around the tube. The sugar was then placed inside the tube. The 2-liter bottle was filled with water and the styrofoam cup was placed in the 2-liter bottle. Once the tube of sugar was pulled out, water quickly rushed inside the styrofoam cup and thus a sinkhole was formed.

It is with great pleasure that the Paulding SWCD offers educational programming to the residents of Paulding County assisted living facilities. If your group would like this program or another offering, please contact the SWCD Office at 419-399-4771 or patrick.troyer@pauldingswcd.org to set something up. Browse through the offering of education programs on our website at www.pauldingswcd.org/education.

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