Do You Know What Soil Is Made Of?

This experiment will show you what is in the soil in your own back yard. This experiment has two parts.


  • Soil a thin layer of material on the Earth’s surface in which plants have their roots. It is made up of many things, such as weathered rock and decayed plant and animal matter. Soil is formed over a long period of time.


  • Set up: 15 min
  • Activity: overnight to several days

You will need:

  • Something to dig with
  • A measuring cup
  • Backyard dirt
  • Two quart jar, one with top
  • Tap water
  • A funnel
  • A piece of gauze
  • A lamp that can shine onto the top of the jar

Here’s What You Do:

Part 1: What is soil made of?

  1. Dig up about a cup of dirt from your backyard. Don’t worry about what is in it.
  2. Fill the jar that has a top with tap water up to about 2 inches below the top.
  3. Put the dirt into the jar and put the top on.
  4. Shake the jar to mix the soil into the water.
  5. Let the jar stand for a few days so the earth settles.
  6. Write down what you see.
  7. Try this with different kinds of soil from different places.

Part 2: Does anything grow in your soil?

  1. Put the funnel into the top of the second jar.
  2. Dig another sample of soil, about half a cup, and put it on the gauze.
  3. Put the gauze with the soil into the top of the funnel.
  4. Put the jar with the funnel under the lamp overnight.
  5. In the morning, look in the jar to see if you find anything.

Questions to Answer

Part 1: What is soil made of?

  • What did you see after the soil had settled?
  • What kinds of layers did you see?
  • What colors did you see?
  • Were there any pieces of gravel or other things in the jar?
  • What does this tell you about the soil in your yard?
  • What can you find out about the kinds of things that make up soil and why each thing is important? Check in the library or on the internet–you will be surprised what you can find out.

Part 2: Does anything grow in your soil?

  • What did you find in the bottom of the jar in the morning?
  • Were there any bugs in the jar? What kinds?
  • What does this tell you about the soil in your yard?
  • What other kinds of things live in the soil?
  • Why is it important that living things are in the soil?
  • What happens when we use chemicals on the soil that kill the living things in it?



The Kids Ecology Corps at Snyder Park

3299 S.W. 4TH Avenue – Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33315 | Phone (954) 524-0366 E-mail:

The Kids Ecology Corps is a program of Partners in Action, Inc., a 501(c) (3) nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1981, providing educational, cultural and leadership experience to young people encouraging immediate, positive, environmental action. And, continuous, determined action is making Environmental Harmony an idea whose time has come.
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