administration student task rubric student work technical quality
Water-holding Capacity of Earth Materials
Task with Student Directions
Contributed by: Oregon State Department of Education


  • balance
  • funnels
  • clock/timer
  • paper towels
  • dry sand
  • water (approx. 800ml.)
  • funnel supports (ring stands or tripod)
  • wax marking pens
  • paper cups
  • dry sphagnum moss
  • graduated cylinder
  • 250ml beakers
  • spoons
  • dry potting soil
  • pieces of filter paper-coffee or lab-(18.5 cm in diameter)
  • other Earth materials


Your task is to plan, design, and conduct an investigation to answer a scientific question. The question is: "How does the water holding capacity of soil, sand, peat moss or other earth materials compare?" You may use any of the materials and equipment listed or other Earth materials brought in may be used (e.g., other soils or gravel).

  1. Under the heading "PROCEDURE" list, in order, the steps you will use to answer the question. You may include a diagram to help illustrate your plans for the investigation. Include any safety procedures you would follow. Make your procedure detailed enough, so someone else could follow it easily.
    • Construct a data table or chart or indicate any other method you could use to record your observations and results that will be obtained.

  2. Perform the investigation by following the steps outlined in your procedure. Be sure to note any changes to your listed procedures and tell why.
    • Under the heading "RESULTS" record your observations and measurements. Write statements or paragraphs and/or use tables and graphs where appropriate.

  3. Under the heading "CONCLUSIONS," write an interpretation and analysis of your results. Note any limitations to your investigation. What additional investigations or questions were suggested as you did your investigation?

  4. Under the heading "SCIENTIFIC QUESTION," based on what you learned in your investigation, write your own question that can be answered with further scientific inquiry using the same classroom materials that you had for this investigation.

  5. Write a report of your experiment, including the sections mentioned above.



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