Polluted Soil  

Adapted from SuperScience Red, March, 1995, issue

There is a garden in New York City that wasn't always so beautiful. A few years ago, it was a junk-filled lot. The soil became polluted. Then people from the neighborhood decided to change things. . .

  • Community helpers worked hard to clear out the junk.
  • New soil was brought in. Neighborhood kids got it ready for planting seeds.
  • The garden sprouted! The community called it "El Sitio Feliz" -- The Happy Place!

How well do seeds grow in polluted soil? Find out here:

You Need:

  • 3 paper cups, 9-oz. size or larger

  • Pencil

  • Soil

  • Latex paint, about 60 ml (1/4 cup)

  • Cooking oil, about 60 ml (1/4 cup)

  • Seeds (radish or alfalfa)

  • Tray

  • Water

  • Measuring cup

  • Worksheet (below)

    1. Label each cup as follows: "Paint," "Oil," and "Plain Soil." Then use a pencil to poke a hole in the bottom of each cup. Fill each cup with soil.

    2. Pour the paint into the cup marked "Paint." Use the pencil to mix it with the soil. Do the same thing with the cup marked "Oil." Leave the other cup alone.

    3. Sprinkle 10-20 seeds in each cup. Cover them with a little soil. Set the cups on a tray in a sunny place. Pour 60 ml (1/4 cup) of water into each cup.

    4. MAKE A GUESS: What will happen to the seeds in each cup? RECORD your guesses on your worksheet.

    5. Check your cups every day. When the soil feels dry, add more water. After one week, look at each cup. RECORD what you see.

    Think About It: How did the seeds grow in each soil? How did the paint and oil change the soil?


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