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Soil Basics: Function and Variation

Grade Level: 6-8

Introduction: Soil is a critical component of any ecosystem; however, it is often overlooked.  In this lesson, students will examine the soils of a tropical montane cloud forest.  As they visit a series of panoramas, they will record data about the soil’s color, water content, organic content, and other characteristics.  Students will then create two trend graphs: one which represents the relationship between altitude and water content, and another that relates altitude to organic content.  Students will then suggest explanations for each trend.

Objectives: Students will be able to: (1) recognize and understand the different functions of soil in the environment, (2) understand that not all soil is the same, soil properties vary among locations, 3) and relate soil conditions to other biotic and abiotic factors.

National Science Standards: Structure of the Earth system (D); populations and ecosystems (C); use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data (A); develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence (A); think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations (A).

Time: 60 minutes (5 minutes for opening, 20 minutes to complete data tables, 20 minutes for graphing, 10 minutes for graph analysis, 5 minutes for closing)


Lesson Plan: PDF | DOC

Worksheets: PDF | DOC

Assessment: PDF | DOC

Related Plans:

  1. Soil Basics: Function and Variation
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  4. Water and Decomposition
  5. Plant Rooting Strategies


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