Unbury Your Underwear

What did the soil do to your underwear?


At this point, you have learned quite a bit about soil. The arthropods you exposed, the seeds you germinated, the song you sang, and the art you made all relate to the characters in your soil’s story.

Healthy soil supports a diversity of organisms, and the underwear burial was a test to see if your soil is healthy. Over the past 2 months arthropods, microbes, and others have fed on your cotton underwear’s sugar molecules, converting them to breakdown products that energize your soil. The more your underwear disappeared, the more life is in your soil. If only some of it has decomposed consider ways to improve your soil’s health.

In this activity, you’ll unbury your 2 pairs of underwear, and then make site observations and share your findings online.


  • Garden spade
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Camera or smart phone

How much of your underwear decomposed?

Touch/Click any image to enlarge


1. Observe and record

Before going out to unbury your underwear take a few moments to reflect on the underwear burial and your observations throughout these activities.

Which activity revealed the most life in your soil?

Describe the weather over the past two months.

How might that have impacted life below ground?

2. Retrieve your underwear

Using a heavy-duty garden spade, retrieve what’s left of your underwear.

What happened to your underwear?

Do the 2 pairs of underwear look different from each other?

Why do you think that is?

Are the organisms you found when unburying different from the ones you saw two months ago? How so?

Would you describe your soil as healthy? What could you do to improve the soil at your site?

3. Share your data

Was your soil up to the challenge? Use a notebook to record your observations. Then, take a photo of what’s left of your underwear and share your findings with the community of others who participated in the Saint Louis Science Center Soil Your Underwear Challenge.

Download and print the worksheet to record your findings!


Where to next?