All STEM Activities

Explore the Wet Sand Effect

Active Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Project Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Key Concepts
Physics, dilatancy, pressure

Introduction

Summer is the perfect time to take a stroll at the beach and walk barefoot along the shoreline. While doing that, have you ever looked at your footprints in the wet sand? If so, you might have noticed that with every step it looks like the sand around your feet dries out. Why is that? These dry footprints are caused by the pressure of your feet. You will find out exactly how this happens by doing this beachy activity!

Credits

Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,200 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Bowl
  • Sand
  • Water bottle (narrow mouth)
  • Large balloons (2), ideally transparent or translucent
  • Transparent straws (2)
  • Rubber bands (2)
  • Paper
  • Spoon
  • Water
  • Optional: wide-mouthed plastic water bottle
  • Optional: ruler
  • Optional: tape
  • Optional: permanent marker
  • Optional: c-clamp
  • Optional: scrap wood pieces (2)
    materials needed for wet sand on beach activity

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Active Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Total Project Time
45 minutes to 1 hour
Key Concepts
Physics, dilatancy, pressure