Theodore students study natural qualities of cotton

Students discovered how cotton breaks down in soil.

Students at a primary school in central Queensland have discovered the natural qualities of cotton and soil health through a hands-on experiment.

In November 2019, students at Theodore State School in Queensland’s Dawson Valley buried pairs of cotton underpants in their playground’s soil, as a test to see how cotton breaks down in the natural environment.

Last week the students unearthed the four pairs of underpants they had buried, and found they had broken down to varying extents. Some showed little evidence of decomposition (the control for the experiment), while others had almost completely broken down in high-quality soil, revealing how cotton as natural fibre degrades in the environment.

As a result of the experiment, the students learned about soil biology and the different microbes present in their soil, as well as why the microbes only broke down the cotton component, and not the elastic waistband, of the undies.

Click here to discover the Soil Your Undies challenge today, and complete it for yourself!