In this experiment we will have some science fun while making a sedimentary layer model using gravel, sand, topsoil, 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
  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Topsoil
  • Water
  • Dead Plant Material (Roots, Leaves, Stems)

Process to Build Sedimentary Layer Model

1. Pour a layer of sand into the empty bottle.

2. Add a layer of topsoil.

3. Insert dead plant material.

4. Layer of gravel.

5. Fill the bottle 3/4 full of water.

6. Screw on cap and shake the bottle until all contents are mixed together.

7. Set the bottle down and let it sit. Observe and record the results over time.

8. 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 (dead plant material).

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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