Soils are one of our most important natural resources — just think of where all the food you eat comes from. They also are important for the beauty the many soil colors add to our landscapes.
Most of us overlook this natural beauty because we see it every day. Often these colors blend with vegetation, sky, water, etc. Soil colors serve as pigments in bricks, pottery and artwork. The color and texture of soil painting is fascinating and a creative opportunity for all ages of students.
Citizen scientists involved in the Geological Society of America's EarthCaching project (http://www.earthcache.org
) 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.
When it rains, much of the water drains directly into the ground. But why?
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.
Are soils like M&Ms™? Yes! Find out more in this awesome activity provided by the Soil Science Society of America.
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.
Discover more about soil properties in this excellent outdoor activity from the National Park Service!
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 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.
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.