Investigating Soil Fertility
Earth ecoSTEM Kit Materials Used: Soil Test Kits
ENGAGE - Students Observe This Phenomenon
EXPLORE a Kit-Supported Learning Experience
Based on PH, students should be able to identify soils as acidic (<6); basic / alkaline (>7.5); or nearly neutral (6.6 – 7.4) and to use this Plant pH Preference List to match soils with plants that are likely to thrive in the schoolyard without the need for soil amendments. They can then compare those plants to a native plant list like this one or this one, in order to make recommendations about plants.
Three macronutrients needed by plants are in the atmosphere (carbon, oxygen and hydrogen). The other 14 macronutrients are available only from soil. Students can use this chart to make models of plants affected by soil nutrient deficiencies and then try to identify the deficiencies depicted by the models in a gallery walk.
Students may analyze an unknown soil sample, classify it according to nutrient deficiencies and pH, and prescribe soil amendments and conditioners. Students may also want to test soil samples before and after composting to detect increased fertility after food waste is decomposed.
Students may propose solutions to poor soils and choose a project to do, e.g. amending soils in the school garden to increase fertility.