What You’ll Need
- Clear plastic jar with lid
What to Do
- Pour a hefty scoop of soil into a clear plastic jar.
- Fill the jar with water, cover the jar, and shake well. Let it sit.
- After a day or two, see if layers have formed. Soil contains many kinds of particles, which swirl in the water when you shake the jar. They eventually settle according to their size and weight. Larger, heavier particles settle first (pebbles, then soil and sand) and smaller, lighter particles settle last (fine silt, then finer clay). Sticks and bits of leaf matter float. What do you see?
Extend the Fun
For younger kids: Make “dessert dirt” to imitate the stripes in your soil. In a drinking glass or glass dish, layer Grape Nuts cereal, raisins, chocolate chips, gummy worms, whipped topping, and pudding with crushed vanilla wafers, chocolate sandwich cookies and/or graham crackers. With a spoon as your shovel, dig in!
For older kids: Be a garden chemist. Find out if your soil is salty (alkaline) or sour (acidic). Fill a paper cup with two spoonsful of soil. Add ½ cup of vinegar. If it fizzes, your soil is salty (alkaline). No reaction? Put two spoonsful of soil in another cup. Add water to make mud. Add ½ cup of baking soda. If it fizzes, your soil is sour (acidic). Chives and sunflowers thrive in alkaline soil. Blueberries and azaleas thrive in acidic soil.