Laboratory Investigation 1:

Characteristics of Soil

Problem: What are the characteristics of soil?

  1. Collect soil sample from the top 2-4 inches of soil.
  2. Label the sample with your name, date and collection site.
  3. Describe the color of the soil sample.
  4. Spread some of the sample on a sheet of paper and examine it with a
    magnifying glass and a microscope. Name or describe.
  5. Place a small amount of soil in your hand and rub it between your fingers.
    Describe the texture (how it feels).
  6. Try to determine if any materials appear to be the remains of once-living
    organism (use a magnifying glass or microscope if needed)
  7. Record your observations on Table 1.
Table 1: Data and Observations



feel of soil




organic matter



  1. Based on your examination of the soil sample in steps 1-3, describe it in detail.
  2. What three characteristics of soil did you observe?
  3. Compare your sample to those of other students in your class. In what ways
    are those samples different or similar to yours?
  4. Write at least 3 questions about soil that you would like to investigate.
  5. Together with your classmates create a master list of questions about
    soil to investigate.