How to Grow Plants in Sand, Soil & Dirt for a Science Experiment

Written by jessica westover
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How to Grow Plants in Sand, Soil & Dirt for a Science Experiment
Grow one plant variety in various soils to test which is better. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

There are many different types of soil, and each one has its own effects upon plant growth. Simple science experiments can be conducted to determine the pros and cons of each soil type on plant growth. The most basic experiment involves growing a common type of plant in various soil types and mapping out the growth habits and health of the plants over time. This experiment can be used in the classroom or at home to give children a hands-on lesson about soil and plant basics.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 3 plastic pots, 6 inches in diameter
  • Sand
  • Dirt
  • Potting soil
  • 12-15 plant seeds
  • Watering can
  • Water
  • Journal
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Water-soluble fertiliser

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  1. 1

    Place three plastic pots, 6 inches in diameter, on a flat work surface. Use pots that have drainage holes in the bottom. Fill one pot with sand, one pot with dirt from your yard and one pot with potting soil to 3 inches below the top. Tap the bottom of each pot a few times against the work surface to slightly compact the material.

  2. 2

    Purchase plant seeds from a local garden centre or nursery. Use the same types of seeds for each pot. Scatter four to five seeds over the surface of each growing medium. Cover the seeds with 1/2 inch of the same growing medium that is in the corresponding pot.

  3. 3

    Water each pot with a watering can three or four times until water is running from the drainage holes in the bottom of each pot. Place the three pots in a bright room that receives at least eight hours of sunlight per day. Make sure the room is well ventilated and has a constant temperature of 21.1 degrees Celsius. Set the pots side by side to ensure they receive the same amount of sunlight and experience the same temperature.

  4. 4

    Check the pots every day and keep the growing mediums moist. Do not allow them to dry out as this will cause the seeds to dry out and stop growing. Give each pot the same amount of water.

  5. 5

    Watch the pots closely for signs of germination. Keep a journal and record watering times, which growing medium dries out faster and the room temperature. Record when the seeds germinate, in which pot they are in and how many have sprouted. Measure the height of the sprouts daily and record the measurements.

  6. 6

    Fertilise the seedlings after all have sprouted and have two or more sets of leaves. Apply a basic water-soluble fertiliser once per week at a rate of 1 tbsp per gallon of water. Water the plants every few days as needed, making sure to provide the same amount of water for each pot. Continue to measure the growth of the plants and record the data in your journal.

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