Biosphere in a Jar


Bio Jar


Natural Science

Grade level

Any (with adult supervision)


Create a Bio Jar to observe nature!


Create a Bio Jar that houses a balanced ecosystem


Clear glass jar with a lid, containers to collect samples


With the help of an adult, find and clean a clear glass jar (a Mason jar works perfect!). The jar can be any size you like.

You will be collecting 4 primary things for your jar: standing water you find outdoors, soil/soot, plants, moss/algae

Step 1

Take your jar and fill it with soil or soot, depending on what type of environment you want to create. Try to keep the dirt from going more than halfway up the jar, as this limits your plants' and your jar's ability to create a humid environment.

Step 2

Using a kitchen utensil or your hand, place the plants in the jar and arrange how you like, placing the roots into the dirt. Don’t worry if the roots aren’t buried all the way down into the dirt. They will be fine!

Step 3

Place the moss or algae on top of the dirt. If your dirt or water source already contain moss or algae, you can skip this step.

Step 4

Add murky water you find outside, on top of your soil. How much you add is up to you but do not completely submerge your plants!

Step 5

Seal your jar and place it near a window inside your house. Spend the next several weeks observing your jar. Your plants will come to life!


This is super important: You must use murky water you find outside! Standing water from outside works great if it has been exposed to nature. This is because it now contains bacteria, bug eggs or larva, etc. that will make up the residents of your jar. Without these components, you will not be able to create a balanced eco system! The bugs, bacteria, etc. breathe oxygen and expel CO2 while the plants breathe the CO2 and expel oxygen. This, plus the micro flora and fauna, create a cycle that supports life.

Extra Credit

There is no limit to the kinds of environment you can create with these Bio Jars. If done correctly, they can last for years! Experiment with different types of water and plants, and you will see some incredible things. You can often shine a light inside the jars and see little critters crawling around as well!

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