Middle school students discover soils!

As an intervention specialist, Pam Sandker from Bethel-Tate Middle School was not sure what to expect when she attended a Feed the World workshop sponsored by the Ohio Corn Marketing Program. “Background knowledge is the biggest roadblock with students,” Sandker said, so she was excited to see and participate in the many labs and content areas that FTW offered. Sandker teaches in a rural area and has several students who’d like to farm, so she appreciated the opportunity to learn more about agriculture and its many science connections.

Sandker did the Soil Texture Lab with her 6th grade class in correlation with the Earth and Science topic of Rocks, Minerals and Soil. In this lab, students determine the textural classification of a soil sample by measuring the relative amounts of sand, silt, and clay particles, then use a soil triangle to determine the soil type. It is important for farmers to know the soil type of each field in order to create the best nutrient management plan for their corn crop as well as to protect the soil for future crops. Sandker saw this as an opportunity to encourage some of her students to gain some interest in agricultural careers. Sandker said, “Experiments are always fun because they are “hands on” work. The students really enjoyed learning about the soil because they have a better understanding of how it is used now.”