Testing soil samples and learning about plants’ needs

Things won’t be “dull as dirt” anymore for the Ag, Food, and Natural Resources students in Jenna Meeks’s class at Southern High School. Meeks attended the Ohio Corn & Wheat-sponsored Feed the World two-day workshop and took great curriculum, activities, and supplies back to her classroom.

Her objectives for the soil lesson were to help students identify soil-forming factors and explain how they produce variability in soils; and to collect, test and analyze soil samples for physical and chemical properties.

Meeks said her students loved being able to do “hands-on” science experiments on their own soil. They used the same soil from the soils pit they had dug for soil-judging contest, and it was helpful to relate this to their other soil class lessons. “This was a great science-based lab, as they actually were able to test our school’s soil and they determined that it is not a good site for growing crops or produce.” She also showed them how they could test their own soil at home for pH with vinegar and baking soda.

Meeks said the workshop materials helped her to feel more comfortable as a teacher as the guided lesson walked her students through each step of the labs. “It was super easy to follow and I enjoyed the ease of the lesson even though I have never taught it before.” Meeks helped her students understand why plants need these nutrients. “I had students take notes and discuss the importance and purpose of ph, phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen. This connected them to the importance of testing our soils.”