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Activity: Soil Sleuthing
1 hour

Activity Description: Students will determine how well a variety of seedlings grow in different types of soilMaterials:Detectiveboy
- 8 ounces of potting soil
- 4 ounces sand
- 4 ounces peat moss
- seed-starting flats with 12 planting compartments
- 1 seed package each of: carrot seeds, broccoli seeds, radishes, lavender
- 12 popsicle sticks
- masking tape
- markers or pens

Eco-Fact: Soil is a combination of materials, both living and nonliving. One part of soil is broken down rock. Another is organic matter made up of decaying plants and animals. Water and air are also a part of soil.  These materials help support plant life by providing them with nutrients, water, and air. Soil also keeps their roots in the ground.


1. Make a sandy soil mixture by mixing 4 oz sand with 4 oz potting soil
2. Make a peat moss soil mixture by mixing 4 oz peat moss with 4 oz potting soil
3. Set aside 8 oz. plain potting soil
4. Divide the sandy mixture into 4 compartments in the seed-starting flat. Label as “sandy” with masking tape.
5. Divide the peat moss mixture into 4 compartment in the seed-starting flat. Label as “peat moss” with masking tape.
6. Divide the plain potting soil into 4 compartments in the seed-starting flat. Label as “plain soil” with masking tape.
7. Place 2 carrot seeds in ONE out of the four sandy-mixture compartments
8. Repeat this process with the peat-soil mixture and the plain soil mixture.
9. Write “carrot” on 3 popsicle sticks and insert each into the carrot compartments
10. Repeat this entire process with the broccoli seeds, radish seeds, and lavender seeds.
11. Make sure to mark each seed placement with a labeled popsicle stick
12. Water each compartment and place the seed-starting flats in a warm place, such as on top of a refrigerator.
13. Water the flat every few days
14. In about a week or week and a half, the seeds will begin to sprout. Monitor their progress. What do you see? Are certain seeds plants more productive than others?  Do you notice similarities among plants in one type of soil?

- Use compost as one of the mixture elements
- Take a nature walk and collect soil from your backyard, from the forest, from the side of a pond. Grow the seedlings in these soils.

Soil Investigators