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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Down and Dirty Experiment 2
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Go Baby Go!

Experiment 2

  Purpose:How does the particle size in soil affect the way water moves through the soil?

   Materials:soil from the yard, jar with lid, water, filter paper, 3 funnels, 3 clear plastic cups or jars, stop watch or watch with second hand, paper


1. Fill the jar half full with soil. 

2. Pour in water until it nearly reaches the top.

3. Place the lid on the jar and shake.



4. Let the jar stand 25-30 minutes.

5. Hold a piece of paper against the side of the jar and draw a diagram of the different layers.
Image of soil sample in jar with water. Paper with soil layers shown.  


6. Label each layer based on its particle size. Refer to "Dig that Stuff" for help.

image of experiment setup with cups, funnels, filters, watch, and measuring cup


7. Allow the water in the jar to evaporate for several days. Then drain off any remaining water.

8. Using a spoon separate the layers and place equal amounts from each layer in separate funnels lined with filter paper. Place the funnels over cups.

9. Predict which particles will allow the water to pass through the fastest.

10. Pour 1/8 cup of water into each funnel and record how long it takes the first water to pass through the funnel.

image of a flashing light bulbThink About This:

1. Which size soil particles hold water the longest? 

2. Which size particles allow water to move through the soil?

3. Based on your observations what type of soil would be the best to have in a garden? 


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Last Modified: 12/29/2016
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