Places on the Planet: Latitude and Longitude

Citizen scientists involved in the Geological Society of America's EarthCaching project ( use GPS technology and latitude and longitude coordinates to find special places on the Earth. This activity will help you learn how to find locations using latitude and longitude.

Rain and Soil

When it rains, much of the water drains directly into the ground. But why?

Reclaiming a Mine Site

Mined land is reclaimed for future use. The objective of this activity is to investigate how plants will grow on a reclaimed landscape. Over a period of days, you will learn how overburden is incorporated into the landscape after it has been removed during the mining process.Before beginning, discuss vocabulary terms: overburden, stockpile, grading, soil types, seeding, stability, seed germination, nutrients, closure planning, and reclamation.

Soil Color and Redox Chemistry

Are soils like M&Ms™? Yes! Find out more in this awesome activity provided by the Soil Science Society of America.

Soil Moisture

Where is the water in soil? Solids, liquids, and gasses, the three phases of matter, are always present in soil. Small mineral and organic particles comprise the solid fraction, and there are spaces (pores) between the solid particles. Some pores are large, and others are very small. Air and water, the gas and liquid phases, exist in the pores. The size of the soil particles and pores affects how much water a soil can hold, and how that water moves through the soil.

Soil Properties

Discover more about soil properties in this excellent outdoor activity from the National Park Service!

Soil, Plants, and the Energy Cycle

Soils are critical for many aspects of our daily life. They provide food such as grains, vegetables, and animal feed. They provide fiber for clothing, as in cotton, flax-linen, and hemp. And they provide shelter materials like wood and brick. But did you realize that soils also are an important part of the energy cycle?

Soil, the Forgotten Resource

Soil is often overlooked as a natural resource. Like fossil fuels, we depend on it for energy in the form of foods. And, like fossil fuels, it is nonrenewable. Soil is a delicate balance of inorganic minerals, organic matter, living organisms, soil water, and soil atmosphere. The natural development of soil is an exceedingly slow process. In a few hours, a heavy rain falling on exposed soil can remove inches of what took hundreds of years to form. Here is a simple exercise that will allow you to compare the rates and amounts of erosion that result from various land uses.

Surficial Features

Various types of sediments, or “surficial features,” lie above the bedrock in many places. The following activity shows how a visualization map of surficial features can be used to consider the interactions of the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere.

The Slope of Land in Your Community

The slope of the land and the materials under ground must be considered when planning how to build on the land in a community to lessen landslide risk. Changing the slope of the land (or even the amount of vegetation on a slope) can have dangerous consequences. This activity will introduce you into thinking critically about the land in your area!


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