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Students learn about the small fraction of the planet available for growing food and ways this precious area can be protected. This two-part lesson is an excellent way to introduce students to the importance of preserving soil and soil’s role in feeding 7+ billion people.

Students will explore the costs associated with their desired futuristic lifestyle while identifying potential agricultural careers available to them in Oregon that align with their interests.

From Rocks to Soil

120 min lesson

In this lesson students explore weatherization (physical and chemical) by doing a series of short experiments that demonstrate how rocks and minerals are broken down into soil. Expand this lesson further by taking students on a field trip to look for rocks breaking down into soil.

Growing Bracelets

60 min lesson

Apples to Oregon, written by Oregon author Deborah Hopkinson, is a delightful tall tale containing the best elements of a good “whopper.” After reading the book, students make “growing” bracelets and learn about the basic elements plants really need to grow and thrive.

Hungry Plants

90 min lesson

Students will discover that plants, like humans, need an adequate amount of nutrients to grow and stay healthy. Plants require 16 chemical elements for growth and development. Some nutrients come from the air while others are taken from the soil. It’s important to test soil regularly to determine if there are enough nutrients to support plant growth. The soil test kit will help students identify whether the soil sample is fertile or deficient in nutrients. Keep in mind that all plants need nutrients, but requirements vary depending on the type of crop, shrub, tree, etc.

Check out our Testing Soil Nutrients N-P-K Lesson for math applications associated with this topic!

In this hands-on fun activity, students learn what a soil profile looks like and the composition of soil. Students are introduced to the five soil forming factors and soil horizons.

Students will discover that plants need an adequate amount of nutrients to grow and stay healthy. Plants uptake nutrients from the soil, so it is important to test soil regularly to determine if there are enough nutrients to support plant growth. The soil test kit will help students identify whether soils in their garden, yard, park, etc. are fertile or deficient in nutrients. Keep in mind that all plants need nutrients, but requirements vary depending on the type of crop, shrub, tree, etc.

We may know where the Columbia River is, but do we know how it was formed? Why is the Willamette Valley such a great place to raise crops? Why is the landscape of Central and Eastern Oregon so different from the rest of the west side of the state? Students learn the answer to these questions and more! The readings are written to teach middle school students about the three major catastrophic geological factors that created the landscape we see in Oregon and throughout the Northwest today.

This lesson is an interactive way to bring germination and the stages of plant development to life.

Water Filtering and Soil

60 min lesson

This hands-on experiment demonstrates soil’s function as a water filter, as well as other physics concepts like hydrophobicity, soil absorption and adsorption, soil as a storage container for water, and the positive and negative charges of soil and contaminants.

Google Slide version of student worksheet available for elearning purposes. 

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