Layers of the Atmosphere

Approximate Time to Complete: 10-15 Minutes + Questions & Journal Time


About This Activity

In this experiment, you will demonstrate how the atmosphere settles into layers based on density using different liquids to represent each layer. This is an extension of Earth’s Blanket.

You’ll Learn

  • The atmosphere is separated into 5 different layers based on the density of each layer.

Pre-Experiment Questions


  1. Pour 20mL sand into the beaker.
  2. Pour 20mL honey into the beaker.
  3. Pour 20mL corn syrup into the beaker.
  4. Pour 20mL dish soap into the beaker.
  5. Pour 20mL water into the beaker.
  6. Pour 20mL oil into the beaker.
  7. Observe what happened.

*You do not have to use exactly 20mL of each liquid, just use enough to be able to distinguish the layers.

Questions & Further Research

Use these questions as a guide to write a journal entry, make a poster, give a presentation, or write a research report about your experiment or a related topic.

  1. What did you observe as you poured each liquid into the beaker?
  2. Are there perfect lines between each liquid?.
  3. Can you match each liquid to a layer of the atmosphere?
    • Troposphere
    • Stratosphere
    • Mesosphere
    • Thermosphere
    • Exosphere
  4. Which layer of Earth does the dirt/sand represent?

Check out more free experiments!

Are you interested in seeing what Montessori Laboratory’s big-picture lessons, hands-on experiments, and engaging science activities are all about? Check out the free lessons below!

Want more lessons like these ones? Get access to all of our lessons with a Montessori Laboratory membership!