In this experiment we will have some science fun while making a sedimentary layer model
using gravel, sand, chalk powder, and a water bottle. Our sedimentary layer will demonstrate
how sedimentary rocks are formed in rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Materials to Build Sedimentary Layer Model
- Small Clear Plastic Water Bottle and Cap
- Chalk Powder or Plaster of Paris
- Coffee Filter
Process to Build Sedimentary Layer Model
- First take your scissors and cut a small hole in the middle of the coffee filter. Make the
hole just large enough so the gravel will be able to fall through.
2. Shape the coffee filter into a funnel and place it into opening spout of the bottle.
3. Measure out 5 tablespoons of sand and pour it into th bottle.
4. Measure out 5 tablespoons of gravel and pour it into the bottle.
5. Measure out 5 tablespoons of chalk powder or Plaster of Paris and pour it into the bottle.
6. Pour water into the bottle until it is 1/2 way full.
7. Screw the cap onto the bottle. Shake the bottle for 20 seconds to mix up everything.
8. Set the bottle down and let it sit for a few minutes and observe what happens.
9. You should observe the ingredients settle to the bottom of the bottle in different layers.
The Science Behind the Sedimentary Layer Model
When we shook up the bottle all the particles of the various materials mixed together in the
water much like what happens in rivers, lakes, and oceans. When we set the bottle down, the
particles sank to the bottom and arranged themselves by size and weight. The particle
sediments that were the heaviest sank to the very bottom of the bottle (gravel). The next heaviest
sediment layer formed on top of the gravel (sand). And finally the lightest sediment particles
settled on the top layer (chalk or plaster of paris).
Sedimentary rocks are formed when small particles of earth materials break apart and when
weathered away by wind and water. These small particles eventually get carried away and
washed down rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans. Once in the water, the particles settle to the
bottom in layers formed by their size and weight. We call this sediment. Over time the layers of
sediment get hot due to the pressure and weight of other layers on top of them. The heat and
pressure turns the sediment layers into rock. These Sedimentary rocks have layers of the
different particles inside. Now go have some science fun and build a sedimentary layer model!
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