Getting the Dirt on Dayton School’s Soil

Joanne Vakil, Middle School Math and Science Teacher at Dayton Islamic School, won a soil test kit from Feed the World and Ohio Corn & Wheat. She describes how she used the kit with her students:

“My seventh grade Science class had a wonderful time going outside and testing the soil. This was after a week’s worth of readings in our textbook about the formation and composition of soil, as well as information on soil fertility and careers such as being a soil scientist. Prior to this activity, we modeled the soil profile with a “Soil Dessert”, where each student brought a dessert item they could layer to represent Horizons A, B,and C. Items such as gummy worms, green sprinkles, and kit kats (trees) were placed on top of a dark chocolate cake.  A middle layer of lighter brown cake lay above a bumpy, light brown cake with chocolate chips (rocks).

“For the soil test kit activity, I divided the students into 4 groups for each test: pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash. What took the longest for them to do was read the directions for the test — some wanted to just do the procedure without reading through all of the steps. We went outside, each group equipped with a measuring cup, clear container, water bottles, and a pipet.  Several groups needed to repeat the test since they did not read the directions carefully and didn’t wait for the correct amount of time before performing the test. They initially found no reaction or color change in their testing chambers. After the results were in, they were able to “get the dirt” on the school ground’s soil by sharing and discussing their findings, specifically what was sufficient or deficient in the soil.”

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