Climate and Temperature

Climate and Temperature Activity Source: Soil Science Society of America. Adapted with permission. There are many factors that combine to form soil, an important, slowly renewable resource. Some of these factors include climate, organisms, relief, parent material, and time. Soil provides the food, fiber, and building materials to nourish, clothe, and house Earth’s inhabitants. How does climate help soil to form? In warm, moist climates such as those in tropical rainforests, organic (formerly living) material breaks down most quickly. [Read More]

Composting Materials and Rates

Composting Materials and Rates Activity Source: Geological Society of America. Adapted with permission. Activity authored by Jessie Bersson (Arizona State University), Carla McAuliffe (TERC), and Matt Dawson (GSA). (Inspired in part by an activity at Soils are a key component of the interface between the biosphere (life) and the geosphere (land). Soils support life.“Our soils support 95 percent of all food production, and by 2060, our soils will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years,” according to Living Soil by The Soil Health Institute. [Read More]

Connecting With Nature

Connecting With Nature Activity Source: Adapted with permission by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service The “Blue Goose” has been the symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge System since it was first drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling, one of the greatest supporters of wildlife conservation in the 20th century. President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903. Now the National Wildlife Refuge System includes more than 550 refuges. [Read More]

Conservation in Action

Conservation in Action Activity Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Adapted with permission. “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” --Rachel Carson, 1954 The second full week of October is not only Earth Science Week—it is also National Wildlife Refuge Week! During this time, you are encouraged to consider the legacy of Rachel Carson, an early leader in the environmental conservation movement, and the resource management activities of the U. [Read More]

Dig Into Soil

Dig Into Soil Activity Source: Wendy Greenberg, Soil Science Society of America. Adapted with permission. Soil scientists often examine soils and record soil data outside. Soil is not just topsoil; it includes other horizons (soil layers) underneath the topsoil. So soil scientists use shovels or soil augers to get samples of many soil horizons. They record soil colors, textures, and types of living organisms for various soil horizons. They also record the location, vegetation, and topography of each soil. [Read More]

Erosion in a Bottle

Erosion in a Bottle Activity Source: Source: Soil Science Society of America. Adapted with permission. Soil erosion is the process of moving soil by water or wind — this happens naturally or through human interference. Preventing soil erosion is important because nutrients are lost, and sediment that accumulates in waterways impacts life there. Conserving soil depends on how it is protected by plants and coverings. You will model erosion by water and compare the amounts of runoff and soil loss generated from three different ground cover types. [Read More]

Finding Slope

Finding Slope Activity Source: Soil Science Society of America. H.M. Galloway, A.L. Zachery, Agronomy Department, Purdue University, Revised by S.S. Fulk-Bringman. Adapted with permission. Earth scientists play an important, if largely invisible, role in many aspects of our daily lives, such as building homes or growing food. For example, geoscientists help determine which locations would be best for undertaking these vital activities. The slope of the soil is an important soil property to consider when building or planting. [Read More]

Geologic Age

Geologic Age Activity Source: Adapted from the USGS Learning Web Lesson Plans Background At the close of the 18th century, the haze of fantasy and mysticism that tended to obscure the true nature of the Earth was being swept away. Careful studies by scientists showed that rocks had diverse origins. Some rock layers, containing clearly identifiable fossil remains of fish and other forms of aquatic animal and plant life, originally formed in the ocean. [Read More]

Geologic Time Scale Analogy

Geologic Time Scale Analogy Activity Source: Ritger, S.D. and R.H. Cummins. 1991. Using student-created metaphors to comprehend geologic time. Journal of Geological Education. 9:9-11. Purpose To introduce students to the vastness of [geologic time](/content/geological- time-scale) and the concept of scale. Background Unraveling time and the Earth’s biologic history are arguably geology’s most important contributions to humanity. Yet it is very difficult for humans to appreciate time beyond that of one or two generations, much less hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of years. [Read More]

How Can You Test Your Soil?

How Can You Test Your Soil? Activity Source: Soil Science Society of America, 2006. Adapted with permission. Background We walk around on soil all the time, but how often do we think about what’s in it? If you have ever looked closely at soil, you probably saw that it is made up of various types of particles and has various materials mixed in with those particles (rocks, twigs, water, air, worms, insects, and much more). [Read More]