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These activities are from "Tales from the Underground", an online learning lab for learning about soil. They involve discovering why fish are dying in a hypothetical lake; and choosing plants to survive in a particular garden area based on soil pH, nitrogen and phosphorus. A set of links is available to maps and GIS products, environmental organizations, career information, and related topics. Full description.
Grade level: Intermediate (3-5), Middle (6-8), High (9-12)
Resource type: Classroom activity, Project
Subject: Environmental science, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES): Read
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This portal provides access to materials on the assessment of soil quality for agricultural and conservation purposes. A brief overview introduces users to the concept of using indicators (physical, chemical, biological, etc.) as an indirect means of assessment. Links are provided to a set of guides, including guidelines for assessing soil quality in the conservation planning process; a guide to on-farm ... Full description.
Grade level: High (9-12), College (13-14), College (15-16), Graduate / Professional
Resource type: Government portal
Subject: Environmental science, Soil science
 
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This experiment will help students understand that soil sometimes contains substances, like limestone, that buffer acids or bases, and that some salts in soil may also act as buffers. They will collect soil samples from their lawn, garden, or school and look for buffering effects by observing the pH change of an acid mixture poured through the samples. If the water collected from the sample is less ... Full description.
Grade level: Middle (6-8), High (9-12)
Resource type: Field activity, Lab activity
Subject: Chemistry, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES): Read
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In this activity students work as a team to determine the effect salt has on plant germination. They then use their lab data to create a report on how the increasing salt concentrations affected the germination of the seeds and at what salt concentration no seeds will germinate. Students will discover that salt buildup is an existing or potential hazard on almost all of the 42 million acres of irrigated ... Full description.
Grade level: Intermediate (3-5), Middle (6-8), High (9-12)
Resource type: Lab activity
Subject: Agricultural science, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES): Read
Pedagogical help
Skills: Read (1)
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In this activity, students observe nutrient depletion as they germinate and grow nutrient-demanding seedlings. They will discover that all plants require nutrients to grow and thrive and that these nutrients are found in the soil and absorbed through the plants' root systems. They will also learn that nutrients are dissolved in water and are distributed throughout the plant via its circulatory system; ... Full description.
Grade level: Middle (6-8)
Resource type: Lab activity
Subject: Biology, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES): Read
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This activity was designed to give students an opportunity to realize that all rocks weather mechanically and each specific rock type has its own particular rate of weathering. Students discover that mechanical weathering is the process of breaking down bedrock into smaller fragments by physical as opposed to chemical means and that rock weathering, although it seems to occur slowly in human terms, ... Full description.
Grade level: Middle (6-8), High (9-12)
Resource type: Lab activity
Subject: Geology, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES): Read
Comments and Teaching Tips
Read (1)
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In this activity students become familiar with the nature and use of the Surficial Geologic Map of Maine and gain practice in using maps other than topographic maps. They will discover that surficial geology deals primarily with the geologically youthful, unconsolidated sedimentary materials that exist at, or close to the surface of a specific area and are important because the surface deposits filter ... Full description.
Grade level: Middle (6-8), High (9-12)
Resource type: Classroom activity
Subject: Geology, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES), National Geography Standards: Read
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This activity demonstrates how particle size and soil texture control water flow, and therefore percolation rate, through a soil. Students will construct a percolation column from a plastic tube and use it to test the percolation rates of three separated soil fractions (sand, silt, and clay). They will add water to samples in the percolation column and record the time it takes to drain out. They then ... Full description.
Grade level: Middle (6-8), High (9-12)
Resource type: Lab activity
Subject: Hydrology, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES): Read
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This activity will introduce students to water-induced topsoil erosion and different ways to control it. Using a stream table (prepared by the teacher), they will vary the surface of the 'soil', and the height of the table, pour in water, and observe sheet, rill, and gully erosion. They can also investigate the effects of check dams (by plugging gullies with pebbles), observe the results of contour ... Full description.
Grade level: Middle (6-8), High (9-12)
Resource type: Classroom activity
Subject: Environmental science, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES): Read
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This activity introduces students to the concept of slope stability (or angle of repose). Using an apparatus they have constructed, the students will work in small groups to test the stability angle of fine gravel, sand, and topsoil, gradually increasing the angle of the apparatus until the test material begins to slide off (angle of first fall) and until all the material slides away (angle of total ... Full description.
Grade level: Middle (6-8), High (9-12)
Resource type: Classroom activity
Subject: Environmental science, Soil science
 
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Educational standards associated with this resource:
National Science Education Standards (NSES): Read
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This resource is included in the following collections:
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