Earth/Environmental Science

Secrets Buried Under the Ground Soil Study (ES 1, 5, 6, 8, and 10; Env I, II, III, IV and V)

  • Soil Textures - Students learn about the soil textural triangle and practice some different exercises using the triangle.  They will also use soil sieves to determine the amount of sand, silt, clay in an unknown sample and determine what of soil it is.

  • Porosity vs. Permeability - What's the Difference - Students will learn about how much land is actually avialbe for growing food.  They will complete two labs, one on porosity and one on permeability, to investigate why some soil is better than others for crops.

  • What's In My Soil? - Students will learn about the major nutrients that plants need and why pH is important.  They will test soils for nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and pH levels.  The will then be given several plants and have to make recommendations based on their plant's requirements and their soil test results.

  • What's Down there? - Students will compare soil core samples from three different types of soil and identify soil horizons from these soil cores.  They will also use a Munsell soil color book to identify the hue, value, and chroma of the different horizons.  When available, students will observe well drillings from different depths and hypothesize about how materials came to be at the levels they are found.  Students can play an optional go-fish style game that will familiarize students with different families of life under the soil.

  • Life Underground Mobile Classroom - Students will learn about the horizons of soil and what goes on in each horizon.  Students will tour the ESSWCD mobile soils classroom.  Points of discussion include human impact and conservation.  When we return to the classroom, students will create their own soil profile in a cube.

Weathering, Erosion, and Sediment Erosion Box Experiment (ES 1, 6, and 8; Environmental I, II, IV, and V) - Students are divided into four groups and assigned an erosion scenario (bare soil, gulley/ditch, silt fence, and sod) and provided with a kit that corresponds to their scenario.  Each group group will set up an erosion box and perform their experiment for the class.  Students are given the opportunity to predict which scenario will have the most and which will have the least soil erosion.  We will then discuss management practices that are used by farmers to help decrease soil erosion and ways students can help reduce it at home.

Will there be water to drink? Enviroscape Model (ES 1, 6, and 8; Environmental I, II, III, IV, and V) - Students will learn about watersheds.  A model is used to visually demonstrate point and non-point source pollution helping students to understand the environmental impacts of each person in a community. We then talk about measures that can be taken to prevent everyday pollution.

Rocks and Minerals (ES 1, 4, and 5; Environmental II) - The student will play a rock cycle game where they divide themselves among 10 stations and roll a die to determine their next station on their journey as a rock or mineral.  At each station they collect a bead and wind up making a bracelet.  Students will then write a story about their journey.  This is designed for students who are already familiar with the basic rock cycle and will allow them to apply their knowledge to this simulation.

A Landfill is No Dump (ES 1, 6, 8, and 10; Environmental I, IV, and V) - Students will learn about the length of time it takes for different items to decompose and the importance of the Four R's - refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle - by playing a "Trashy Timeline" game.  They will also create a mini-landfill that will be observed in 10 days, 20 days, and again at the teachers discretion.  Worksheets and questions will be provided.

Topographic Maps (ES1) - Through several activities students will learn vocabulary, map reading, and interpreting both raised and flat topographic maps.  They will also make a 3D model from a topographic map and learn how to calculate the gradient (slope) of particular points.