Dishing the Dirt Part 3

High schoolers acquire more information and skills related to soil science and perfect the proper techniques for soil sample collection and soil preparation. They test for levels of three major soil elements and the soil's pH value. The experiment leads to a soil analysis in which students answer questions about optimum growing conditions with their soil including preferred fertilizer and plants. This enables them to pass on valuable information to the young gardeners they mentor.

For more about Special #3 from Techno Gardening, e-mail Aida Quinones, author and AT&T Teacher Disseminator.
Learning Standards
  • Research, analyze and evaluate environmental challenges through observation,
  • Research and apply the unifying concepts of science.
  • Use technologies to obtain, utilize and present information.
  • Classroom Activities
    Students engage in a lab, testing for levels of the three major elements that plants absorb in large quantities during growth: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Soil pH is also included because the pH value directly affects the availability of a soil's mineral nutrients. With these activities students

    understand how plants depend on soil for nutrition:
    Community Activities
    With accumulating knowledge on soil, high schoolers can "dish the dirt" to the community. As they help out with school gardens in the neighborhood, they provide helpful information on fertilizers and plants.
    Students visit a nursery to observe and
    interview horticulturists who help them
    plan the best plants and fertilizers
    for their garden.
    Applications in Biology/Chemistry, 1994: Center for Occupational Research and Development, Waco, Texas; LaMotte Soil Handbook, Chestertown, MD; soil test kit to test for nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and pH: LaMotte Soil Test Kit, Sudbury Soil Test Kit, or any available kit; for lab materials, see soil test kit.
    Students document work with PowerPoint
    and continue their e-mail correspondence
    with a university soil scientist about
    their project.
    Soil Test Results on Soil Analysis form on going assessment.

    Web Sites
    Gardening Basics
    Soil Test Interpretations