This week we are studying Mars and I found this great experiment to explain the red color of the soil of Mars. The kids and I read the book Mars by Steven Kip.
At the end of the book he had a great experiment to make Martian sand and to explain why Mars is the color red. We decided to give it a try.
First fill a basin with sand.
Next take steel wool and cut into very small pieces and place in sand. Our scissors were not very sharp so we didn't get the pieces as small as we would have liked, but it still worked. I recommend wearing rubber gloves for this:)
Add water to cover and then let it sit and watch the results
After 3 days the sand is turning red due to the the rust forming on the steel wool. You can still see large chucks of steel wool but it is starting to rust and turn the sand red/orange in color. In this picture there is still water to evaporate.
After 10 days, most of the steel wool is gone and all of the water has evaporated. We now have Martian sand!:)
I explained to the children the the dust on Mars is red because of iron oxide which is rust. Basically we made rust sand:)!