The foundation that children use to learn about their world involves the use of science. While taking part in scientific activities, children learn to ask questions, observe, predict, and explain their ideas, which supports the development of scientific inquiry. These foundational skills of inquiry, observation, and exploration involves the use of all sciences and are not limited to only science activities.

Simple STEAM: 50+ Science Technology Engineering Art Math Activities for ages 3 to 6 provides science activities to do with children that also incorporates mathematics, arts, technology, and engineering. Science activities involve making rain clouds, an anemometer, worm habitat, and much more! Use this activity to teach kids about soil erosion and the importance of having vegetation covering the soil.  

Soil Erosion

In this experiment, children will learn how soil erosion occurs and the value of keeping trees, plants, and grass living in our soil.

Talk Like Scientists!

  • Erosion: the gradual destruction of something by natural forces (such as water, wind, or ice); the process by which something is worn away
  • Soil: the upper layer of earth that may be dug or plowed and in which plants grow
  • Vegetation: plant life or plant cover over a portion of earth’s surface.

What You Need

  • 3 empty milk jugs without caps

How to Do It

  1. Begin a discussion with children about erosion and vegetation. Ask, “What can you tell me about the word erosion?” “Why do we have grass, plants, and trees on earth’s surface?”
  2. Record children's thoughts on what causes erosion and further research if they are curious to see the effects of erosion on beaches or mountains. Continue to explore their ideas and questions throughout the activity.
  3. To start, lay milk containers on their sides and cut out one side (to make an opening for soil) in the three containers.
  4. Fill the containers with garden soil and press down firmly in the container. Put an extra inch of soil in bottle 1. In bottle 2, put an inch of mulch (wood chips, dead leaves, and sticks). In bottle 3, put a layer of grass (could be removed from an overgrowth in your yard).
  5. Place the three milk containers on a table where the neck of the bottle will overhang and place a bowl or container under each milk container to capture overflow water.
  6. Slowly pour 1 cup of water on top of the soil and cover the soil surface in each of the jugs.
  7. Engage children’s curiosity: How much water do you think we will capture in our collection cup for each milk container.
  8. Encourage children's critical-thinking skills: What can you tell me about the importance of ground cover on Earth’s surface. What can you tell me about erosion?

Predict and Hypothesize

  • Problem solve with children: I wonder what will happen if we add water over the next one or two weeks to each container.
  • Pour one cup of water every two days into each container and measure how much water is collected. Also note if anything is happening to the soil in the containers.
  • Test the hypothesis by measuring water, Chart what you discover.

What You Should Be Seeing

If the soil level is above the neck of the bottle, you may see the materials clogging up the opening.

Add more STEAM activities:

  • Technology: Use a stopwatch to see how long it takes for water to be collected in a smaller container.
  • Engineering: Discuss, plan, and draw other types of containers to show soil cover and water collection.
  • Arts: Draw/paint landscapes with ground cover.
  • Math: Chart how much water is collected and note on a chart.