Weird Science: Core Sampling - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Weird Science: Core Sampling

Air Date: February 2, 2010

Things you need:

• Rigid drinking straw

• Three or more colors of modeling clay or Play-Doh

• Small scissors with thin tip

The experiment:

Please perform this and all experiments under the supervision and with the assistance of an adult. Flatten each color of clay and stack them on top of each other. Push the straw firmly through the all the layers of the clay. While holding your finger over the open end of the straw, pull the straw out of the clay. Carefully cut open the straw along its length and remove the clay plug from the straw. This may be difficult to do without damaging the clay, but keep practicing.

How does it work?

What you have just done is very similar to what a geologist or civil engineer does when they are determining what kind of soil or rock is beneath the surface. The clay plug that you pulled out of the straw represents a core sample. You can see the different layers of clay in your core sample. Geologists use a metal coring device to take samples to study the layers of the earth far beneath the surface and even under the ocean floor. By studying these samples, you can determine the oceanic and geologic history of the area being sampled. Any change in the earth's environment causes a new layer to be deposited on the earth's surface. By analyzing each layer, scientists and geologist can determine what was happening at the time, for example, the area used to be covered in water, or it was covered in ice. What different layers can you include in your coring sample?

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