Trimble students test samples to assess soil quality

Christine Snoddy teaches sixth grade science and social studies at Trimble Middle School in Athens County, Ohio. After attending a Feed the World workshop for teachers, she presented a unit about soil. Snoddy said her goal was to simply introduce the students to what soil is, what nutrients make it healthy for plants, and its importance.

“I used a booklet about soil produced by Nutrients for Life, which I received at the Feed The World workshop. This booklet has articles and activities about the nutrients in soil which helped me introduce the subject. Then I used the soil testing kits and graduated cylinders I bought with the grant money I won from the Ohio Corn Council! I brought in a soil sample from my yard (mostly clay), some potting soil, and a student brought in soil from his family’s garden. I put the soil samples in water in the graduated cylinders and let them sit overnight to settle. In class, each student got a soil test vial with the matching powder capsule and one type of soil to test.”

The students used droppers to move soil water from the cylinders to their vials. They tested each type of soil sample for nitrogen, phosphorus, Ph, and potassium, then recorded the results in a chart. Snoddy said, “They love hands-on activities and doing the work themselves. I was a little worried about spills or the students purposefully misusing the testing powders/capsules, but they took the lab seriously and we had no mishaps!”

Pleased with the activity and the students’ responses, Snoddy plans to expand this unit next year. She also recommended the workshop to other teachers, noting that doing the lessons in the workshop and taking materials home makes it easy to use the lessons in class. Also, she said, “It is wonderful to meet and network with other science teachers who give you ideas and resources for your classes!”

Learn more about the soil curriculum here.