Testing Soil Samples

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Link to Resource: http://www.agiweb.org/education/aapg/invest/invest5.html
Resource Type:Classroom Activities; Curricula and Instruction
Grade Level:
4 5 6 7 8
Organization:American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Summary:Soil plays a unique role in our life. Soil helps to maintain air quality, stores water and nutrients for plants, and filters contaminants from surface water. Where there is soil, life flourishes. Determining a soil’s pH is important because many plants will only grow in either alkaline or acidic conditions, additionally, the pH can affect the availability of nutrients in the soil. In this activity students will learn how soil scientists and gardeners determine which soil is best for the growth of certain plants, by sampling different soils and testing their pH levels. In this activity, students are trying to answer this question: how do you know what soil is best for plants? Students will have a discussion on what plants need to grow (nitrates, phosphates, and potassium). The students then begin to test local soil samples. A comparison between the soil samples and a pH chart lets the students know which soils plants can most easily live in.
Earth Science Big Ideas:Big Idea 1; Big Idea 3
NGSS Discplinary Core Ideas:LS1.C
NGSS Performance Expectations:3-LS4-3; MS-LS1-5
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:Analyzing and interpreting data; Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering); Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation; Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation; Stability and change
Subjects: 6-8; elementary school; environmental science; geology; k-5 geosource; middle school; natural resources; rocks; soils
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