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Soil Pour-Through

en Español / em Português

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Watch to see how water moves through the soils!


  • 2 or 3, 20 oz. clear soda bottles or tennis ball containers (top cut off and holes drilled in the bottom)
  • 2 or 3 Clear cups marked with 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1-cup measurements
  • 2-3 Different soils, enough to partly fill each soda bottle container or tennis ball container
  • 2-3 Plastic cups or measuring cups marked with a 1-cup line
  • 1 clock or stopwatch
Printable directions for the soil pour-through activity

Let’s Do It!

  1. To test the differences in water moving into the soil and moving through the soil, begin with clear soda bottles (or similar plastic containers) with holes drilled into the bottoms.
  2. Use soils collected from your backyard, park, woods, swamp, etc.
  3. Soil samples should be dry. To dry soil, lay them out on a tray on a sunny windowsill for a week or two.
  4. Put the same amount of soil (about 1-2 cups) into the bottle
  5. Fill your cup with water to the one-cup mark.
  6. Using the soil and water drainage sheet, write down a hypothesis about what you think will happen.
  7. Make a hypothesis about which soil water will travel through the fastest.
  8. Using a clock or stopwatch, pour water into your soil samples and observe how fast the water moves through the soil.
  9. After 30 seconds, observe how much water drained into the cup. Record your measurement on your work sheet.
  10. Continue observing the water drain through the soil. Measure at 30-second intervals until most of the water has drained.

Talk it Over!

  1. Which soil drained the fastest? Which drained the slowest?
  2. What does the water look like from the drained soils?
  3. What happens if we use compacted soil?
  4. What if the soil is already wet? Can we change the structure of the soil? How?
  5. What is the relationship of water drainage in soil to plant growth?
  6. Compare the total water quantity that drained with the amount of water added.
  7. Which soil retained the most water after drainage stopped? Why?
  8. Which soil has the most total porosity?