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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Mud Pie Science Activity 3
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When Water Hurts
Activity 3



To see how plants help prevent soil erosion.

2 pans that are alike, soil, water, sprinkling can, grass seed or a piece of sod 


1. Fill one pan with soil.

2. Fill the second pan with soil or cut a piece of sod to fit in the pan. If you are using sod go to step 4. 

3. Plant grass seed in the second pan. Place in a sunny location and water as needed to keep the soil moist, but not wet. When your grass is an inch high go on to step 4.

image of two pans: one with soil only the other with soil and grass

Image of pan of soil being watered with sprikler can


4. Place a block of wood under one end of the pans so they are on a slope.Have a bucket or additional pan at the low end of each pan to catch water.

5. Put 3 cups of water in the sprinkling can. Pour it on the high end of the first tray. Repeat the process for the second tray. Pour from the same height each time.

6. Compare the water you collected from each pan.

image of a flashing light bulbThink About This:

1. Which pan loses more soil? How can you tell?

2. How can water hurt the land?

3. How do plants help?

Extension: Make furrows (little hills) across the pan of bare siol. Repeat step 5. What happens?

image of a litte cartoon houseimage of a childimage of a magnifying glassimage of a dump truck

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Last Modified: 12/29/2016
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