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Activity 2: Inwood Hill Park Ecological Study_Soil Testing

Activity Description

This activity involves a field trip to Inwood Hill Park where student perform mutliple tests on soil samples and then spend the next week in class analyzing their findings.

Estimated Time of Activity

Five 45 minute classes plus a 2-3 hour field trip

Activity Objectives

Students will be able do the following as a result of the activity:

  1. Identify the tools needed to perform basic tests on soil
  2. Know the importance of soil and the basic characteristics used to describe it
  3. Use powerpoint to make a short presentation of their findings to the class

 

Activity Instructions

  1. The field trip should come first, and before student teams break up to study the soil of their plot, the teacher needs to demonstrate the proper way to perform each test.  The teacher needs to dig a proper hole and show students the different layers of soil.  The teacher needs to perform the soil ribbon test to determing the structure of each soil layer.  The teacher also needs to use the PH kit to show students how to properly identify soil PH.
  2. Students will then go into the field and mark out their plots.  They will all take notes in their field notebooks and they will dig two holes to analyze soil.
  3. Students will measure PH, determine the soil horizons, determine the makeup of the soil, and measure the depths of the different layers
  4. The first day after the field trip, student teams will empty their bags and organize their soil samples.  The teacher should lead a short discussion about the first day (what went well, what went poorly, what was the importance, etc)
  5. On the second day, students begin analyzing their results.  This is a good time to introduce Microsoft excel so students can store the information they collected.
  6. On the third day, students should compile all their data in one shared spreadsheet, and then start working on a short powerpoint presentation discussing their results
  7. On the fourth day, students should continue working on their presentation
  8. On the Fifth, groups should present what they found and discuss any larger results.  For example, we have students choose plots in different disturbed areas of the park and different ecosystems.  They can then clearly see a difference between soil types across the park.

Assessment

The teacher should assess students through their team presentations, the completeness of individual field notebooks, and the accuracy of the measurements made on their soil samples.

 

Materials