Testing Soils

In this worksheet, students will be given the chance to investigate soils and find out some of what makes them different and how to find out.

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Rocks

Curriculum subtopic:   Soils

Difficulty level:

QUESTION 1 of 10

Amy and her younger brother Sam were on their way home after a walk when Sam exclaimed "Look Amy, that puddle outside our house is still there and it hasn't rained since yesterday!"

"That's because some soils don't let the rainwater through very easily." explained Amy.

"Tell you what, Sam, why don't we do a little investigation to find out?" suggested Amy.

"Oh yes!" Sam was excited. "What shall we do?"

"Well, we need two types of soil and then we'll add some water and see how quickly it drips through." Amy told him.

Amy and Sam will need to measure how much water they are going to add to their soil. Pick the best way of measuring this:

 Measuring Jug Tumbler Saucepan
measuring jug

tumbler

saucepan

Amy got two sieves from the kitchen:

She added soil to each one.

"What types of soil are they?" asked Sam.

"That one's called clay and this one is a sandy soil." Amy told her brother.

This is what it looked like:

"OK Sam, shall we add the water now?" suggested Amy.

Look at the picture of the soil in the two sieves. What do you think Sam should say?

Yes, let's get on with it!

Shouldn't we have the same amount of soil in each sieve?

Should we add the water at the same time to each one?

Amy measured out 100cm3 of water to add to each type of soil.

"We're going to time how long it takes to go through the soil," she told Sam.

Which of these glasses contains 100cm3 of liquid?

 A B C
A

B

C

Amy and Sam will need to time how long it takes the water to drip through each type of soil.

What would be the best instrument for them to choose to do the timing?

clock

thermometer

stopwatch

They both poured the water on to their soils. Amy started her timer. Sam forgot to start his.

Does this matter?

No, they don't need to know how long it takes to drip through

Yes, they need to start their timers together or it won't be a fair test

Yes, otherwise Amy's will finish before Sam's

Amy and Sam are measuring how long it takes 100cm3 of water to drip through their soil.

Why is it important that they have equal amounts of water?

if they didn't they couldn't compare their answers

in any investigation you have to have equal amounts of water or it's not fair

you always use equal amounts of water when investigating soils

When they had completed their investigation properly they got these results:

AMY - CLAY SOIL - 100cm3 of water took 90 MINUTES to drip through.

SAM - SANDY SOIL - 100cm3 of water took 20 MINUTES to drip through.

Looking at their results, which of the two soils was the more permeable?

clay soil

sandy soil

"So that means that the puddle stays longer if the soil isn't very permeable." Sam thought.

"That's right," agreed Amy, "it's to do with how big the bits of soil are."

How do you think the size of the 'bits' of soil (or grains/particles) changes how fast the water passes through the soil?

bigger bits leave bigger spaces for the water to fit through

smaller bits are easier for the water to fit past

bigger bits block the water so it takes longer to trickle through

• Question 1

Amy and Sam will need to measure how much water they are going to add to their soil. Pick the best way of measuring this:

 Measuring Jug Tumbler Saucepan
measuring jug
EDDIE SAYS
The measuring jug's best as it's got markings on it that tell you how much water you have, so Amy and Sam can make sure that they give each soil the same amount.
• Question 2

Amy got two sieves from the kitchen:

She added soil to each one.

"What types of soil are they?" asked Sam.

"That one's called clay and this one is a sandy soil." Amy told her brother.

This is what it looked like:

"OK Sam, shall we add the water now?" suggested Amy.

Look at the picture of the soil in the two sieves. What do you think Sam should say?

Shouldn't we have the same amount of soil in each sieve?
EDDIE SAYS
It's not going to be a fair test like this, is it? Amy's put a lot more sandy soil in compared to the clay and it'll take the water a long time to get through (if it does). It would be better if there was the same amount in each one.
• Question 3

Amy measured out 100cm3 of water to add to each type of soil.

"We're going to time how long it takes to go through the soil," she told Sam.

Which of these glasses contains 100cm3 of liquid?

 A B C
A
EDDIE SAYS
Look carefully and you can see that the liquid is level with the 100 mark in A. In B it's nearer 200ml and in C it's about 75ml.
• Question 4

Amy and Sam will need to time how long it takes the water to drip through each type of soil.

What would be the best instrument for them to choose to do the timing?

stopwatch
EDDIE SAYS
A thermometer measures the temperature (hot and cold), so that's no good. A clock is not accurate enough to give a useful reading, so a stopwatch is best.
• Question 5

They both poured the water on to their soils. Amy started her timer. Sam forgot to start his.

Does this matter?

Yes, they need to start their timers together or it won't be a fair test
EDDIE SAYS
Amy and Sam are adding 100ml of water to their soils and seeing how long it takes to drip through. So far it's a fair test because they've used the same amount of soil and the same amount of water. They need to start their timers at the same time so they have a direct comparison of how quickly the water is dripping through.
• Question 6

Amy and Sam are measuring how long it takes 100cm3 of water to drip through their soil.

Why is it important that they have equal amounts of water?

if they didn't they couldn't compare their answers
EDDIE SAYS
If Sam had used 50ml and Amy had used 100ml of water and then Sam's water dripped through before Amy's had finished would that mean his soil was more permeable? Of course not - he had less water to drip through so it might well have taken less time. For a fair test in their investigation they must have equal amounts of water - then they can compare their answers.
• Question 7

When they had completed their investigation properly they got these results:

AMY - CLAY SOIL - 100cm3 of water took 90 MINUTES to drip through.

SAM - SANDY SOIL - 100cm3 of water took 20 MINUTES to drip through.

Looking at their results, which of the two soils was the more permeable?

sandy soil
EDDIE SAYS
They had equal amounts of soil on to which they poured equal amounts of water. That water took much less time to pass through the sandy soil so it is more permeable than clay.
• Question 8

"So that means that the puddle stays longer if the soil isn't very permeable." Sam thought.

"That's right," agreed Amy, "it's to do with how big the bits of soil are."

How do you think the size of the 'bits' of soil (or grains/particles) changes how fast the water passes through the soil?

bigger bits leave bigger spaces for the water to fit through
EDDIE SAYS
Tricky! Imagine tiny soil particles - they fit quite tightly together with very little space between, so the water finds it difficult to get through those tiny gaps. With big, knobbly grains, they fit together in a higgledy-piggledy manner, leaving lots of spaces between them, spaces that water can fit through quite easily, between the particles.
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