TerrAqua Investigation Column: What is the Land-Water Connection?

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In this investigation, learners plant seeds in a 2-liter bottle filled with soil that is connected to a water source below. Over the next few weeks, learners observe how the plants grow. The investigation is open-ended, with suggestions for variables to change and indicators to measure, such as pH of the soil and water. Instructions are given for performing a salt pollution experiment as one possibility. The activity comes from a printed book that is also available in Spanish, though the Spanish version is not available online.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 2 hours

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • One 2-liter soda bottle (two bottles for option 2)
  • One bottle cap
  • Wicking material-fabric interfacing or cotton string
  • Water, soil and plants
  • Gravel, sand or vermiculite (optional)
  • Box top or drawer to stabilize bottle while making cutting lines
  • Marker, wax pencil or crayon for drawing cutting lines
  • Cutting blade or utility knife to start cut
  • Scissors to cut bottle
  • Clothes line, polyester or nylon craft cording (optional)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Acids and Bases

Informal Categories

  • Gardening


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation