There is something fascinating about playing in the dirt. Most kids love digging their hands into fresh earth and exploring the various textures. With temperatures rising, it is the perfect time to learn about the layers of the earth, how rocks form, and other fun geology lessons by making a sediment jar!
The sediment jar is super simple to make, and it teaches kids a lot about how rocks form, and why the earth has layers. My kids were fascinated by this dirty, hands-on science activity.
Sediment Jar Science Investigation
Learn all about the layers of the earth, why some rocks have layers, and how sediment forms and is moved about with this super-fun sediment jar science investigation!
You’ll need just a few things for this project:
- Various types of dirt, soil, plant matter, sand, etc
- A large jar
- Magnifying glass
- Science journal
First, have your kids run around the yard and collect a variety of materials to put in their jar. Mine found leaves, potting soil, sand, clay, small rocks, and dry dirt.
Next, bring everything inside and mix it all up.
Fill a jar about 3/4 of the way full of water.
Pour the dirt into the jar.
Then put on the lid, and shake things up!
Set the jar in a sunny spot and watch the layers start to form.
Our jar started to form layers almost instantly.
Within an hour, we had clearly defined layers.
The kids loved examining the layers to see what material landed where in the jar. Older kids may note that the layers in the jar look similar to the inside of a mountain where it has been carved into to make a road. Younger kids will love exploring the jar’s layers with a magnifying glass and identifying each type of soil.
Sediment Jar Science Explained
Over thousands of years, dirt, rocks, sand, and organic matter is compacted, moved, and ground into other materials. When snow, ice, and rain occur, sediment builds up in certain areas. Sediment will always fall from lightest to heaviest, which is why you’ll find rocks at the bottom of your sediment jar and the water at the top. We were most surprised to see that our potting soil was the lightest thing in our jar. The kids loved examining the layers in this natural density jar to see which material the collected was the heaviest.
What other thing could you talk about with your kids?