Ecology Archives - Page 4 of 6 - Eva Varga


May 8, 2015

Soil is rarely devoid of life. Soil which supports plant life is teeming with many soil organisms, the majority of which are too small to see. Some examples of soil organisms are fungi, bacteria, nematodes, diatoms (algae), earthworms, ants, centipedes, millipedes, beetles, snails, and slugs. All these soil creatures and more make up the soil community. In STEM Club, we sought to discover for ourselves, what lives in our soils?

Most fungi and bacteria are supported by relationships with plant roots, so they stay close to plants. Any creatures that live on fungi and bacteria also stay close to the roots. Other larger herbivores, like beetles, ants, centipedes, and termites, feed closer to the surface where more plant debris is located.Therefore most soil creatures live within a few inches of soil closest to their food sources.

STEM Club: What Lives in Our Soils @EvaVarga.netThis community of organisms is deeply involved in the soil food web. It’s basically a recycling program, where plant and animal residues are broken down by a chain of soil consumers (nematodes, bacteria, fungi, mites, earthworms, etc), who are then consumed by birds and other mammals, cycling carbon and essential nutrients.

Soil protects soil organisms from harsh sun, wind and, rain, while still providing air, water, and nutrients essential to life. When soil organisms break down plant and animal debris they change the structure of the soil. Creatures like earthworms break down larger vegetative clumps into smaller clumps of organic matter, making the soil structure finer. In a good plant debris-based soil, the actions of earthworm, as well as the amount of organic matter, greatly increases the soil’s ability to hold nutrients and water, as well as structure (pores).

Soil lacking in oxygen, water, and organic matter would be very bare and devoid of biodiversity. The area would consist only of a few, very specific kinds of soil organisms and specific plants that could tolerate these challenging environmental conditions.

What Lives in Our Soil?

Can you think of any other examples of food webs? What are some reasons why a soil would not have a layer of organic matter or humus near the surface? What would be some environmental strategies to remedy such a soil? What would happen if a group from the soil food web (fungi, animals, plants, insects, earthworms) suddenly disappeared?

STEM Club: What Lives in Our Soil? @EvaVarga.netThe goal of this activity is to discover what lives in soil. Students will select a location to collect a soil sample, return to the classroom, and thereby note a variety of characteristics of the soil (moisture content, texture, color, etc.).

Materials

  • Small shovel(s) or trowel(s)
  • 1-liter plastic freezer bags
  • Plastic jars
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Permanent marker
  • Journals
  • Map of school grounds, town, or county (geographically and by elevation)

Procedure

1. Preparation :: Take note of locations that the students would be interested in taking samples from. Be sure to have a variety of locations:

  • Garden or flower bed
  • Wooded area
  • Near a parking lot
  • Near a sidewalk
  • Turf (grassy area)

Have a table in the classroom or other open space ready for observing soils. If students will be drying soil, you’ll need a place where soils can be left for several days
Have students draw a map of the school grounds.

2. Digging Soil :: At each selected area, have students:

  • Observe location and vegetation
  • Describe location and vegetation orally
  • Write about location and vegetation in journals
  • Use trowel or shovel to collect several clumps of soil
  • Place soil in freezer bags

3. Observations :: Place soil samples on table or other open space. Divide students into groups and distribute one soil sample bag per group. Observe characteristics of the soil
which may include:

  • Gravel
  • Rocks
  • Sand
  • Earthworms
  • Ants
  • Other soil creatures
  • Color
  • Moisture
  • Texture

4. Record observations by location on chart (sample below). Predict from chart which soils might be best for growing crops.

STEM Club: Soils Are Alive @EvaVarga.net

Extension Activities

  • Develop an inquiry project to further investigate your prediction in step 4.
  • Choose a soil organism and write an expository paragraph (include: name, appearance, role, supporting details, and conclusion).
  • Think of three animals that live in the soil and the homes they build. Students draw a soil community that includes small creatures, creatures above the soil, and plants.
  • Create an informative poster to illustrate the soil food webs (include at least five trophic levels).

You can learn more about the activities we undertook in STEM Club here:

Soil Ecology Activities for Middle School

Cycles and Ecosystems {Free Printable}

Rain Gardens & Composting

Soils Support Agriculture: Ideas to Integrate Writing

Let’s Get Dirty: Soil Horizons & Particle Size

Let’s Get Dirty: Life in the Mud

 



May 2, 2015

Soil is the part of the ground where plants grow. Soil is a mixture of tiny particles of rock and rotting plant and animal material, with water and air between them. Soils help plants grow in two ways. First, soil holds the plants into place. Second, soil contains nutrients that plants need in order to survive. These nutrients include water, phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium.

Over the course of the next few weeks, STEM Club will be investigating soil ecology as a part of the Year of Soils. I’ve shared a few of our past endeavors relating to soils here:

Soil Ecology Activities for Middle School

Cycles and Ecosystems {Free Printable}

Soils Support Urban Life: Rain Gardens & Composting

Soils Support Agriculture: Ideas to Integrate Writing

STEM Club: Let's Get Dirty (Soil Ecology) @EvaVarga.net

Today, I share a lesson on soil horizons and particle size.

Soil Horizons

Soil particles vary greatly in size. The largest particles settle to the bottom first. The fine particles settle slowly; some are suspended indefinitely. The amount of open space between the particles has much to do with how easily water moves through the soil. This also determines how much water the soil will hold, which has a major effect on the type of plants that can grow in the soil.

STEM Club: Let's Get Dirty (Soil Ecology) @EvaVarga.net

Things to look for in soil are color, texture, structure, depth, and pH. A general soil profile is made up of a litter layer, A horizon, B horizon and C horizon. A soil sampling device (pictured in the collage above) allows you to gather data on the soil makeup on any site.

Soil Particle Size

Soil scientists classify soil particles into sand, silt, and clay. Scientists use these three components and the calculated percentages on the texture triangle to determine the textural class of the soil at a given site.

A soil’s texture depends on the size of its particles and living things depend on the right texture to thrive in the soil. Every soil type is a mixture of sand (2mm – 0.05mm; feels gritty), silt (0.05 – 0.002mm; feels like flour), clay (Smaller than 0.002; feels sticky when wet), and organic matter. Squeeze some soil between your fingers. Is it crumbly? Sticky?

STEM Club: Let's Get Dirty (Soil Ecology) @EvaVarga.net

Let’s Get Dirty ~ Terrestrial Soils

One of the best activities to engage kids in the study of soil ecology is the sample the soils around your home or school yard. Begin by asking the following questions:

1.  Are there different types of soil near your home?

2.  What texture class is this soil?

3.  What is the particle size make-up of this soil?

The answers generated prior to the investigation are part of your hypothesis. Record your ideas in your science notebook before you begin and give reasons. Why do you suppose the soil in your yard is predominately sand? What experience or prior knowledge do you have to help you make this statement?

Materials

  • 1 Soil probe
  • 1 Metric ruler
  • 1 Quart jar with lid
  • 1 Set index cards for diagrams

Procedure

  1. Use the soil probe to collect soil cores as deep as possible from a predetermined site.
  2. Diagram and measure the depth of each layer or horizon in your sample.
  3. Fill the quart jar at least half and no more than two thirds full.
  4. Fill the rest of the jar with water, seal tightly and shake vigorously for 10 minutes. Let the jar stand for 24 hrs.
  5. The next day, mark the soil layers of each sample on an index card placed behind the bottle. Mark the top of the soil and the points where the layers change. Calculate the percent of sand, silt and clay in your sample. To do this, measure the following marks you made on the card: entire height, sand (bottom) layer, silt (middle) layer, and clay (top) layer. Then take the height of each layer by the total height and multiple by 100. Record the figures on the data sheet.

STEM Club: Let's Get Dirty (Soil Ecology) @EvaVarga.net
Analysis of Results

  1. At which site was the soil the most sandy? silty? mostly clay?
  2. Do you think that this is a trend and would be found at other sites? Explain.
  3. What are some factors that may change the results of this experiment? Explain.

Conclusions

  1. Did you achieve your hypothesis? Explain.
  2. What did you learn by doing this exercise?
  3. Do you think the soil will be the same at other sites (park, forest, meadow, near the shore of a lake or river, etc.)? Design an inquiry project to learn more.


April 25, 2015

Every spring, when the weather is still yet cool, I like to take our STEM Club outdoors for more in-depth, hands-on ecology lessons. This year, to align with the International Year of Soils, we are focusing on soil ecology.

STEM Club: Cycles & Ecosystems w/free printable @EvaVarga.netAs I begin each ecology study, we review the cycles of energy and nutrients. Ecosystems are characterized by different cycles that enable organisms to survive. Plants and animals interact with each other and with their environment through these important ecosystem cycles.

  • Energy Cycle
  • Carbon and Oxygen Cycle
  • Nitrogen Cycle
  • Water Cycle
  • Disturbance Cycle

The Energy Cycle

An ecosystem is a type of community in which all of the plants and animals that live in it either feed off each other or depend upon one another in some way. Just as people interact and depend on each other in our communities. In each ecosystem, there are different feeding levels called trophic levels: primary producers (or plants) that convert energy from the sun through photosynthesis, primary consumers (herbivores), secondary consumers (animals that eat the primary consumers), tertiary consumers (animals that each both primary and secondary consumers), and decomposers that break down dead or dying matter into nutrients that can be used again by producers.

The Carbon and Oxygen Cycle

Another important cycle in an ecosystem is the carbon and oxygen cycle. Each of these elements is needed in order for plants and animals to live. Plants take in carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis. They use the carbon from carbon dioxide to make food which provides matter and energy to make new plant cells. During respiration plants take in carbon dioxide, a gas they need to live, and release oxygen. Animals breathe in oxygen, a gas they need to live, and release carbon dioxide. Dead plants and animals release carbon dioxide during the decaying process. The carbon is stored as fossil fuels that include coal, gas, and oil.

The Nitrogen Cycle

Nitrogen is a gas that makes up about 78% of the air we breathe. It is an important part of proteins and other plant and animal matter. Plants and animals cannot use nitrogen directly from the air. The nitrogen must be changed into a form that plant roots can take up and use. Certain bacteria, like lichen, are able to take nitrogen from the air and change it into a form that plants can use. The process of changing nitrogen into a form that plants can use is called nitrogen fixation. The bacteria break down the nitrogen containing tissues of dead plants and animals and change them into nitrates. Plants absorb the nitrates through their roots and release nitrogen gas back into the air.

The Water Cycle

Organisms need water to survive. The water cycle is very important in an ecosystem. The water cycle is the movement of water from the ocean to the atmosphere to land and back to the ocean. An ecosystem, especially a wetland or forest, is essential to the water cycle because it stores, releases, and filters the water as it passes through the system.

There are three steps to the water cycle:
  1. Evaporation occurs when the sun heats the water in soil, rivers, lakes, and oceans, causing it to evaporate and become water vapor, which is a gas.
  2. Condensation occurs when water vapor rises, cools, and condenses to form tiny water droplets or ice crystals in clouds.
  3. Precipitation occurs when the water falls back to earth as rain, snow, or other precipitation. Most water returns to the sea or sinks into underground water sources.

The Disturbance Cycle

A regular cycle of events including fires, floods, landslides, and storms keep every ecosystem in a constant state of change and adaptation. Although the disturbance cycle can cause  disruption, some species depend on this cycle for survival and reproduction. For example, some forests depend on fire for reproduction. The cones of the trees are sealed shut around the seed with a resin that will only dissolve under very high temperatures such as those caused by fires. Another example is flooding. Flooding, in some areas like the Nile Delta in Egypt, brings rich nutrients to the soil.

Homeostasis

It is a delicate balance within each ecosystem. Competing for food, water, light, and other resources is how plants and animals stay in balance. This balance is called homeostasis.

If a new plant or animal is brought into an ecosystem, where it did not exist before, it competes with the existing organisms for available resources. The new plant or animal can out compete other organisms and cause them to become extinct by breaking the chain and thereby affecting other organisms that depended on the extinct organisms for food.

When an ecosystem functions smoothly, there are many benefits to people including healthy forests, streams, and wetlands which contribute to clean air and water. The survival of healthy ecosystems, however, is sometimes threatened by human activities that include deforestation, filling of wetlands, damming rivers, and polluting the air, soil, and water. Today, there are government agencies and other organizations that work to manage and protect Earth’s natural resources and ecosystems.

Bring it Home

Review the cycles of energy and nutrients with your students and ask that they illustrate each cycle. I’ve put together an interactive Ecosystem Cycles Flip Book specifically for this purpose – print this freebie and get started today!

If you are interested in more in-depth ecology activities, I encourage you to check out my curriculum materials:

ecology

Ecology Explorations is one of my favorite hands-on life science curriculum because it provides several opportunities to explore your local ecosystems. What better way to learn about ecology than to get out there, collect data, and experience the physical factors that influence the animal and plant communities first hand.

Estuary Ecology is a fourteen lesson unit study that focuses upon estuaries and salt water marshes. It incorporates a month-long moon observation project as well as a field trip to an estuary or salt marsh.


EarthDay.jpg

April 7, 20158

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Over the past few weeks, I have written three distinct posts in honor of Earth Day. There are so many resources that you’ll surely find inspiration and ideas to incorporate Earth Day activities into your home or school curriculum.

In Honor of Dr Jane @EvaVarga.netIn Honor of Dr Jane: Every Individual Matters

My children and I have had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jane on several occasions. Her quiet demeanor and the strength of her conviction always inspire us to do more. Come learn more about the grassroots service learning branch of the Jane Goodall Institute.

It's Our Turn to Lead @EvaVarga.netIt’s Our Turn to Lead: Earth Day 2015

Earth Day is a reminder of what we should be doing all year long. As adults, it’s our job to teach our youth, to lead by example. Kids will follow in our footsteps once they understand the value in what they’re doing. In this post, I share a number of great volunteer opportunities for people of all ages.

Celebrate Earth Day @EvaVarga.netCelebrate Earth Day with Dover Publications

Utilizing a number of Dover Publications resources, I have put together a soil ecology unit study and I am delighted to share with you lesson plans and resources to celebrate Earth Day as well as incorporate soil science into your curriculum.

Earth Day Books and Music Giveaway

To inspire earth-friendly practices with your family, I’ve teamed up with several kid bloggers to bring you this awesome Earth Day giveaway. Several publishers have offered earth-themed books and music prizes for your Earth Day celebrations. Hopefully, these wonderful resources will inspire a love of nature in your children and motivate them to make a difference in the world. Amazon affiliate links are below for your convenience.

The Earth Day Giveaway co-hosts are:
Kids Yoga Stories, Mama Smiles, Spanish Playground, Creative World of Varya, Crafty Moms Share, The Piri Piri Lexicon, All Done Monkey, and Eva Varga

 

EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY PRIZE PACK #1

Water Rolls, Water Rises, by Pat Mora
Celebrate the wonders of the water on planet Earth with this poetic and illustrative bilingual book.

Call Me Tree, by Maya Christina Gonzalez
Act out this beautiful bilingual story following a young child mimicking the growth of a tree.

Kings & Queens of the Forest CD, by Kira Willey
Act out a journey to the forest with Kira Willey’s enchanting yoga-inspired music.

Imaginations 2, by Carolyn Clarke
Use guided imagery to explore nature while learning to calm the mind and body with these relaxation stories.

Sophia’s Jungle Adventure, by Giselle Shardlow
Join Sophia and her family on a jungle adventure while learning to appreciate jungle life and doing yoga along the way.

Every Day is Earth Day Kids Yoga Lesson Plan PDF, by Next Generation Yoga
Create an earth-themed yoga session with this kids yoga lesson plan.

Compost Stew, by Mary McKenna Siddals
Dig into composting with this engaging rhyming text.

Too Much Junk song, by Elska
Get inspired to enjoy nature and simplify your life with this new musical adventure.

Backyard Garden CD, by Earthworm Ensemble
Celebrate nature, green living, and gardening with this uplifting new music.

Earth Day Giveaway | Kids Yoga Stories

EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY PRIZE PACK #2

Change the World Before Bedtime, by Mark Kimball Moulton, Josh Chalmers, and Karen Good
Find out how the simple things in life that can inspire huge differences that change the world.

Picture a Tree, by Barbara Reid
Discover new ways to experience trees in this book with stunning imagery.

This Tree Counts, by Alison Formento and Sarah Snow
Practice counting with animals that live in trees.

Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green, by Eileen Spinelli and Anne Kennedy
Join Miss Fox as she teaches her forest animal students how to go green.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver, by Susan Grigsby and Nicole Tadgell
Step into the historical world of Dr. Carver as he teaches children about gardening.

What’s So Special About Planet Earth?, by Robert E. Wells
Learn how planet Earth is different from other planets.

Polar Bear, Why is Your World Melting?, by Robert E. Wells
Learn why and how the world is getting warmer and what we can do about it.

Earth Day Giveaway | Kids Yoga Stories

 EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY PRIZE PACK #3

Earth Day CD and Recycled Musical Activities eBook, by Daria Marmaluk Hajioannou
Sing and dance to catchy folk music to celebrate our beautiful rainbow world.

Nature Anatomy, by Julia Rothman
Take a look at nature in a new way with this book that explains all about the nature with sketches.

Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun, by Michael J. Caduto
Learn about renewable energy with 22 activities on producing and using it.

Ecology eBook – Ecology Explorations, by Eva Varga
Explore your local ecosystems with this hands-on ten-week life science curriculum.

When the Animals Saved Earth, by Alexis York Lumbard
Read a tale about how animals teach humans to restore balance in nature.

Just Like Me, Climbing a Tree, by Durga Yael Bernhard
Explore trees all over the world and see what a child sees when climbing those trees

Earth Day Giveaway | Kids Yoga Stories

EARTH DAY GIVEAWAY
FREE DOWNLOAD FOR EVERYONE

The Garden Classroom Journal, by Nurture Store
Download this free Garden Classroom journal to record your gardening experiences.

Garden Journal

Some of the resources above were given to us bloggers free for review, but the decision to include them in the giveaway was entirely our own. Please read the full Contest Rules below for details.

We look forward to your entries. Thank you for taking the time to participate in our giveaway. Please let me know if you have any questions or problems with the Rafflecopter tool below by sending me an e-mail at giselle at kidsyogastories dot com.

Earth Day Giveaway

To enter the contest, sign in using your Facebook or e-mail account and click on the different ways to enter. You can enter every day, using this Rafflecopter online giveaway tool.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest Rules:

  1. Entries are open worldwide.
  2. You can be any age to enter.
  3. Participation in the contest constitutes that you agree to the Contest Rules.
  4. Please enter using the Rafflecopter tool above, obtaining points as follow the different options.
  5. You can enter every day.
  6. No purchase is necessary.
  7. You must enter the contest giveaway with a valid e-mail address. The winner will be notified by e-mail, and at that time, we will request a mailing address. The winner must respond within 72 hours, or we will pick a different winner. The shipping of the books and CDs can take some time, depending on the winner’s location. Each publisher will ship the books separately and will cover the shipping costs.
  8. If you have any questions, e-mail Giselle directly at giselle at kidsyogastories dot com.
  9. The contest closes on Tuesday, April 15th, 2015, midnight EST.


March 17, 2015

This month’s International Year of Soils theme is Soils Support Agriculture. The soil is the ultimate source of nutrients our bodies need. The vitamins and minerals that are a necessary part of our diet come from plants that have, in turn, gotten those same vitamins and minerals from the soil. Soils support agriculture by serving as the foundation of where we grow food.

soilssupportagWriting Contest

Each year, the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom sponsors a writing contest for youth. Their goal is to promote reading, writing and the arts, while also furthering the understanding of agriculture in our lives.

As a part of our Writer’s Workshop, I encouraged all of my students to submit an entry. Much to our delight, we recently learned that my son’s story was selected as a regional winner.

Papa’s Oranges

The young boy looked out the window and could see nothing but trees for as far as he could see. He knew he wasn’t at home. He glanced at the clock next to the bed, it was 7:00 a.m. The only thing he remembered was that he fell asleep in the car going to visit his papa. “I guess this is it,” the boy said to himself.

Every tree he could see was covered with oranges. His mom had said that his papa had a large orchard so he guessed this was his house. He jumped out of bed, threw on his shoes, and ran outside. “Mom, Dad, and Papa must not be up yet,” he thought.

He kept running until he could not see the house very well. He reached up and picked one of the oranges. He peeled it, the juice overwhelmed his taste buds. He wiped his face with his sleeve as the juice dripped down his chin.

“Is it good?” asked someone from behind him.

The boy jumped in surprise. “Yes, very.” The boy noticed it was his grandfather. “I thought you were asleep!” the boy cried.

“Well I am going for a walk. Would you like to join?” asked his grandfather.

“It would be my pleasure.”

They started walking even further into the orchard. Only then the boy saw what his papa was wearing. He had on a brown Fedora that was placed a little back on his head. He wore a tan shirt with a weathered leather jacket, long brown pants, and for some reason a whip was coiled on his hip.

“What’s that for?” the boy asked, pointing.

“Oh, my whip? It’s for Yankees – people that poison trees and pick all the fruit,” his papa answered with a grin.

They boy asked more questions as they continued to walk. “When I was pealing the orange, why was it so hard?”

“Well, you were in the juvenile patch so the orange peels are thicker. Those trees can grow to be 20 to 30 feet tall. Orange trees can bear fruit they reach their full height. Right ahead of us is the mature patch,” answered his papa.

As they continued to walk, his papa kept on talking about how the oranges grow. “I grow two kinds of oranges. Washington navels for an early season harvest and Valencia for a later season harvest.”

“How do you know when to harvest them?” the boy asked.

“Oranges develop their sweetness over time on the tree. I like to taste them each week. That’s how I know they are ready.”

“I love oranges, Papa. I like helping you, too.”

“I was thinking that when I retire you could take over,” his papa said as they returned to the house.

“You are joking!” the boy said disbelievingly.

“No, I am not. Are you interested?”

“Yes!!” the boy yelled.

“I thought you would like to have it.”

The boy then ran inside to tell his parents.

Lesson Plans

The Chemistry of Fertilizers – California Foundation AITC ~ Hands-on experiments, activities, practice problems, discussions and writing assignments are incorporated as students learn to break compounds into ions, make a fertilizer and test several fertilizers for phosphate content.

Chemistry in Plant Nutrition and Growth – Alaska AITC ~ Lesson plan with information, tables, diagrams, and questions about plant nutrients in soil.

Soil Sam – Illinois AITC ~ Students make a “Soil Sam” with a baby food jar to hold the soil and grass seeds planted to grow “hair”. Includes suggested additions to learn about fertilizers.



February 17, 2015

Soil is a complex mixture of minerals, water, air and organic matter that performs many critical functions. In the United States, more than 80 percent of the population lives in cities or suburbs. While the downtown areas of cities are covered with asphalt and concrete, there are still lawns, trees, gardens, and parks. Under all this city space, even under the concrete, is soil.

soilsurbanlifeSoils Support Urban Life

Before we began using pipes, drains, pumps, and other infrastructure to manage stormwater, nature provided the “green infrastructure” to slow, filter, and move water to where it belonged. In forests and wetlands, water is still managed naturally. The foundation of this network is the soil. It is the drain, the pipe, the pump, and the water treatment plant all in one.

As urban areas have grown and we’ve continued to pave over our soils, demands on both natural and manmade stormwater management systems have increased. The last few decades have brought a shift from traditional “capture, convey, and treat” drainage systems. Instead, many cities are beginning to focus on more sustainable systems to manage storm water runoff.

Often referred to as “green infrastructure”, these sustainable systems include rain gardens, living roofs, and the growing trend to plant vegetation native to the region. These practices can delay the arrival of water that reaches the sewer system and thereby reduce flooding.

The biggest benefit green infrastructure, however, is the potential reduction of pollutants entering the storm water system. Pollutants like nutrients (from fertilizers), road salt, and bacteria, can negatively affect aquatic life and public health. Green infrastructure captures these pollutants, especially those that might run off at the beginning of a storm.In both of the cities I have called home in the past few years, a few public buildings have even converted their roof tops to green space. These green roofs not only help to reduce pollutants but provide habitat for pollinators and small birds. In addition, they can provide learning spaces to learn about native plants and sustainable agricultural practices (drip irrigation, etc).

Bring it Home

The Soil Science Society of America recommends that urban dwellers consider rain gardens for their yards and compost their appropriate food wastes. Help the soil serve you by making rain gardens, making and using compost, and making an urban garden. Here are several resources and lesson plans to get you started:

  • Do the Rot Thing – Download this free composting curriculum to bring the science of composting into your curriculum
  • Build a Two-Can Bioreactor or small-scall indoor composting unit, or on a smaller scale consider a …
  • Soda Bottle Bioreactor that will enable students to design and carry out individualized research projects, comparing variables such as reactor design, moisture content, and nutrient ratios of mixtures to be composted.
  • Soil Science – Learn about basic soil science, and then explore some unique characteristics of soils found in urban areas.
  • Exploration of Run-off and Infiltration – In this unit, students design and conduct experiments on runoff and infiltration, either outside or in the classroom
  • Nourishing the Planet – Download the free soil science curriculum to help students realize the challenges of feeding a growing world
  • Dig It! Secrets of Soil – Visit the Smithsonian exhibit’s website to access 10 online interactive learning modules