What Is Sand?
What is sand? Sand is more than something to make castles from. Discover the mysteries in a handful of sand. Where does sand come from? The sand itself will give you clues.
What You'll Need:
- Beach sand
- White paper
- Magnifying glass
- Black or dark-colored paper
- Small containers
- Pencil or pen
The next time you hit the beach, sprinkle some sand on a sheet of white paper and look at it closely with a magnifying glass. What kinds of particles do you see? How many different colors do you see?
Sprinkle some sand on black or dark-colored paper. Do particles stand out now that were hard to see on white paper?
You'll also notice dark particles in the sand. Pass a magnet over your sand sample. Many of the dark particles will stick to the magnet. These are iron-rich minerals, such as magnetite.
If you are patient, you can try sorting the sand particles into separate piles!
Sand is made of tiny rock fragments eroded by water. Some of your sand grains are the same color as nearby rocks. You may find a lot of light-colored or even clear particles. Many of these are quartz, a mineral high in silica. Because most sand has a lot of quartz, it is used to manufacture glass.
If you visit beaches in different areas, start a sand collection. Find small, clear bottles or plastic containers. (Some film-developing shops will give you clear film canisters for free.)
Scoop a sample of sand from the beach into a container. Label and date the container. If you have friends living on or visiting other coastlines or sandy shores, ask them to send you sand for your collection.
Now that you've investigated the properties of sand, why not build something fun with it? Read on to find out how.