# How does soil let water through?

In this worksheet, students will be looking at factors which affect how easily water drains through a soil.

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Rocks

Curriculum subtopic:  Soils

Difficulty level:

### QUESTION 1 of 10

Not all soil is the same. There are different types of soil with different characteristics.

One of these differences is how easily water drains through the soil.  This is called the permeability of the soil.  The more permeable the soil is the more easily it will allow water to drain through it.

How easily water can drain through a soil can be very important. It can help people to decide which crops will grow best there, or whether the land is good for building on.

Use this worksheet to test what you know about soils and how permeable they are.

The permeability of a soil tells you...

how fast rivers flow over the ground

how long it takes the soil to dry out

how easily water moves through the soil

how often the soil is rained on

Which ONE of these is a fair way to soil samples to see how permeable they are?

put some water in a jar, cover it with a soil sample and see how long it takes the water to reach the surface

put a soil sample in a funnel, pour in some water and measure how much water trickles through in a minute

time how long it takes for the wet soil to dry out

OK, let's say that you carry out your permeability test on a sample of clay soil and a sample of sandy soil.

Use your knowledge of these different soils to predict which one you would expect to drain the most easily.

clay

sandy

both the same

Why do you think that one type of soil might be more permeable to water than another?

the sandy soil has bigger particles with more spaces between for the water to flow through

the water sticks to the clay particles and moves more slowly

sand is smoother than clay so the water moves more quickly

When testing soil samples, which of these factors should you control to keep your tests fair? (You can select more than one answer).

use the same amounts of each sample

use clean equipment each time

use the same amount of water each time

pour the water on to the soil at the same rate each time

use the same kind of equipment each time

Imagine that you wanted to build a pond in your school grounds or your garden.  It would a great way to attract wildlife and provide a habitat for different animals and plants.

What sort of soil would be best for making the pond?

a soil that drains easily to keep the water fresh

a soil that holds water

a soil that contains sand

• Question 1

The permeability of a soil tells you...

CORRECT ANSWER
how easily water moves through the soil
EDDIE SAYS
Do you remember from the introduction that how fast water drains through a soil is a measure of how PERMEABLE it is? More permeable soils allow water through them quite quickly and this has a massive effect upon what we can do with that soil, like growing which crops and whether building on it is safe.
• Question 2

Which ONE of these is a fair way to soil samples to see how permeable they are?

CORRECT ANSWER
put a soil sample in a funnel, pour in some water and measure how much water trickles through in a minute
EDDIE SAYS
Remember, a fair test is a way in which we measure something whilst keeping everything else the same. Here, we want to know is how easily soils let water through them, so seeing how much water drips through in one minute is a good way of comparing different soils. Check out the 'Testing Soils' worksheet for more on this - it's fun!
• Question 3

OK, let's say that you carry out your permeability test on a sample of clay soil and a sample of sandy soil.

Use your knowledge of these different soils to predict which one you would expect to drain the most easily.

CORRECT ANSWER
sandy
EDDIE SAYS
The water will flow much more quickly through the sandy soil. That's because the particles of sand are larger than the particles of clay, so there are bigger spaces between them for the water to trickle through.
• Question 4

Why do you think that one type of soil might be more permeable to water than another?

CORRECT ANSWER
the sandy soil has bigger particles with more spaces between for the water to flow through
EDDIE SAYS
In clay-type soil, the particles of soil are smaller and so fit together more closely than in a sandy-type soil. So, in a clay soil it's hard for the water to get past all the particles (that's how it dribbles through) and so it takes a long time.
• Question 5

When testing soil samples, which of these factors should you control to keep your tests fair? (You can select more than one answer).

CORRECT ANSWER
use the same amounts of each sample
use clean equipment each time
use the same amount of water each time
pour the water on to the soil at the same rate each time
use the same kind of equipment each time
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get that all of these things are correct? Keeping everything the same, apart from changing the soil samples, is the only way to make sure your results are accurate. For example, it wouldn't be a fair test to use a narrow funnel for one soil sample and a broad funnel for another.
• Question 6

Imagine that you wanted to build a pond in your school grounds or your garden.  It would a great way to attract wildlife and provide a habitat for different animals and plants.

What sort of soil would be best for making the pond?

CORRECT ANSWER
a soil that holds water
EDDIE SAYS
If you want to build a pond, I guess it makes sense to have a soil that keeps water in. Having said that, water will tend to drain away in any case, so many ponds need to have an inflow of water.
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