Resource Type
Completion Time
Less than a week
Middle School and Up
Download and Share
Cristina Solis
pH probeware
Distilled water
Tap water
3 soil samples per group
Lidded glass jars
Filter paper
100mL graduated cylinders
Rinse bottles
Containers with holes in the bottom
One worksheet per group (attached)
General Earth Science
General Life Science
Life Science
Earth Science
Earth System, Structure, and Processes
Polar Science
General Polar Science


Students will conduct a soil study by investigating pH and water absorption.


Students will learn:

  • How to describe the composition of soil and explain how it forms.
  • That soil is made up of tiny particles of rock, plant, and animal matter.
  • How to determine whether a solution is acidic, basic, or neutral.
  • How scientists classify soils.
  • That erosion is controlled by how well the soil retains water.

Lesson Preparation

Procedure for pH probeware

  1. Hand out 3 soil samples per group in lidded glass jars (approximately 2 tablespoons of soil).
  2. Students write a description of each sample on their data table.
  3. Students pour 50mL of distilled water into each jar.
  4. Close jar and shake well 30 times.
  5. Let the soil sample settle for 3 minutes.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each soil jar.
  7. Rinse the pH probe with the rinse bottle of distilled water.
  8. Place the pH probe in the liquid part of the soil and water mixture and briefly swirl.
  9. When the reading stabilizes, record the pH value in your data table (approximately 3 minutes).
  10. Recap the jar. Rinse the pH probe with the rinse bottle.
  11. Repeat steps 8 and 9 for each soil jar.
  12. Rinse the pH probe a final time and place cap on probe.

Procedure for Water Absorption

  1. Students place 3 tablespoons of soil on a piece of filter paper.
  2. Student 1 places filter paper/soil into the container with holes in the bottom
  3. Student 2 holds this container over a beaker.
  4. Pour 100mL of tap water through the soil, collecting the water in the beaker.
  5. Let the sample drip for 1 minute.
  6. Use the 100mL graduated cylinder to measure the amount of water in the bottom container. Record on your data table.
  7. Repeat steps 1 through 7 for each soil sample.

Analyzing your Data

  1. Have students complete the portion of the worksheet below the data table.
  2. Have a class discussion.


  1. Students can collect soil samples from home to bring in for testing.
  2. Students can graph their results on graph paper or using Excel's graphing feature.
  3. Students can research soil conservation.


The teacher will use the group discussion and worksheet as an assessment.


Cristina Solis


5-8 9-12 Content Standard A: Science As Inquiry: Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science: a. Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry a. Structure of the earth system Content Standard A: Science As Inquiry: Content Standard B: Physical Science: Content Standard F: Science In Personal and Social Perspectives: a. Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry b. Structure and properties of matter c. Natural resources
Attachment Size
Download Complete Lesson (PDF - 212 KB)211.83 KB 211.83 KB
Download Worksheet (Word - 95 KB)94.5 KB 94.5 KB

This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.