A Hole in the Ground

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
Learners build models of sinkholes to gain an intuitive knowledge of their physical aspects. They construct a model of the geology of a sinkhole in a terrarium using sugar and sand to represent the different types of soil. They then saturate the model so the sugar dissolves and the sinkhole appears. They also can use a spray bottle to simulate the addition of a well to the system that drains out groundwater, causing the sinkhole to open wider. The lesson plan includes handouts, background information, and suggested extension activities.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Small containers (old yogurt containers, Styrofoam cups, or other containers, clear containers work best)
  • Large container that the small container can fit into
  • 78mm X 78mm Post It™ notes (2 7/8” X 2 7/8”)
  • Granular sugar
  • Abrasive pads
  • Large straws or funnel
  • Sand
  • Pump spray-bottles
  • Materials to photocopy: Science Background and Student Procedure (1 per student)
  • Optional: Clay, potting soil, or gravel


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Geochemical Cycles
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
      • Oceans and Water
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • NASA