Create a Waterflood
Hosted by: UT Austin Women in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering
Visit our Booth: Saturday, March 6, 2021, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Recommended Grades: 2nd, 3rd, 4th
The Challenge: Create a waterflood using water, oil, and rocks.
- To start, fill a clear cup halfway with rocks.
- Add oil so it goes in between the rocks. Fill until it reaches the top of the rocks.
- OBSERVE, Brainstorm & Ask Question: Do you think it would be easy to suck all the oil out with a straw (don't do this - yuck!)? Why or why not?
- PREDICT, Brainstorm & Ask Question: When you add water to the cup, what do you think will happen to the oil and water? What are some differences between oil and water?
- Optional: mix food coloring into the water to make it easier to see what is happening in the cup.
- Next, add roughly the same amount of water to the cup.
- OBSERVE, Brainstorm & Ask Question: What happened? Did anything change over time? If so, why do you think it happened? Would it be easy to suck all the oil out now with a straw? Why or why not?
- Video your experiment and/or observations and share on Flipgrid.
- A clear cup
- Rocks, marbles, large beads, or anything similar in size and shape
- Cooking oil or baby oil
- Food coloring
How does this activity connect to STEM and today's Girl Day theme of Exploring Earth and Energy? Deep in the Earth's crust are pockets full of oil and natural gas called reservoirs. Petroleum engineers figure out how to drill holes called wells to reach the oil and gas so it can come to the surface. Once it's on the surface, we can use it to power cars and the lights in your house. Oil and gas naturally flow up wells because the pressure from the rocks and water above the reservoir pushes them out. However, over time this stops once there's less oil in the reservoir. To get more of the oil out, petroleum engineers use waterfloods to push the oil out of the rocks and into the well. Just like the demo, the water pushed most of the oil out of the rocks to where we can collect it and use it.
WPGE is a student organization that provides a platform for undergraduate women in the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering (PGE) to socialize and network amongst each other, to help encourage the growth of women in the PGE community, and to learn about the role women play in the energy industry.