Soil – Can You Dig It?

September 3, 2019

The study of soil can start as early as kindergarten age and go all the way through high school and beyond. Whether you're teaching general soils, soil biology, soils and plant growth, soil chemistry, soil conservation, soil and land development, or soil forensics, there are many interesting things about soil that you can share and maybe even discover with your students. For instance with general soil studies, some of the topics include soil composition, color texture, formation and landscapes. Soil biology covers soil organisms, organic matter, decomposition and composting. Soils and plant growth introduces students to soils and crops, soils and forestry, and soil fertility. Soil chemistry provides an in-depth study of soil as students learn more about soil pH, nutrients, toxins in soil, and chemical reactions in soil. Soil conservation allows students to understand the effects of soil erosion, soil quality, soil degradation, and desertification. With soil and land development studies, students learn and understand the effects construction and development have on urban soils. And we can't leave out soil forensics where students analyze soils to help solve crimes.

No matter what topic you may be teaching, you need to check out the Soil Science Society of America! There you will find some amazing teacher resources on soil basics, soil disciplines, as well as, lesson plans broken down into grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. The Soil Basics Tab takes you to a page that discusses what soil is. The Soil by Subject Tab takes you to soil disciplines which includes soil formation, soil biology, soil chemistry, soil fertility, soil mineralogy, soil physics, and soil forensics and archeology. Each discipline can be clicked on taking you to the next page where that particular discipline is broken down into greater detail. The Lessons and Activities Tab takes you to lesson plans that provide exciting, hands-on activities for your students to make sure they grasp the concepts. The lesson plans are listed in a chart by subject and allow you to click on your appropriate grade level.

Another very informative part of the website that is a new feature for them is the Around the World Tab which takes you to an interactive map. By clicking on your state in the map, you are provided with an online State Soil Booklet for your state! How cool is that! Each booklet includes an introduction, history and many other important facts about the state.

The last tab I will describe is the Land & People Tab. Here you will discover more about soils and food, soils and culture, human/soil interactions, engineering/urban interaction, and soil and the environment. Soil is vital to life as we know it. This tab does a good job of describing the effects we have on our soils.

I could go on and on about all the information this website has to offer! I hope that you will take the time to explore it and discover even more than I have. According to Susan Chapman with Soil Science Society of America, they have new things coming in the very near future, so be sure and check back for those. One of those things is a new search that will allow you to find outside resources, as well. And, to ensure these outside resources are legitimate, each must pass a peer review before being posted to the site. I can only imagine how far you can take this wealth of trusted information and use it in your classroom!

Stephanie Miller

With over 25 years experience, Stephanie serves as a senior copywriter, social media director, and senior editor for Science Scene. Stephanie is always on the lookout for new educational and STEM-related opportunities and technology.