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A Hole in the Ground

Source Institutions

    Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

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A Hole in the Ground

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



  • All Rights Reserved, OMSI, ©2006

Funding Source:

  • NASA


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