Mystery Soil


Mystery soil is a 2 hour inquiry-based investigation designed for second graders (though modifications could be made for upper or lower grade levels.) Students are presented with a jar of soil and they will conduct tests in three different location in order to determine the source of their mystery jar of soil. 


In this lesson students will be able to:             

Describe the differences in color, texture, moisture and (maybe particle size) among different types of soil

Discuss the importance of soil in supporting life

Identify the component of soils – clay, sand, hummus, organic material, decomposers - and what types of soil are best for growing plants

Compare  soils in the garden and  soils in the forest after conducting tests on each.


Detailed description of the activity and the data sheet are downloadable below


  1. 3 plastic bags (per group)
  2. trowels (one per student)
  3. small magnifying glasses for each student (best if on a lanyard so they don't get lost)
  4. data sheets on clipboards and pencils (preferably;y attached to the cl;clipboard)