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Transcript
SOLE
Sciences of Life Explorations:
Through Agriculture
Grades 4 and 5
Suggested Month: October
Teacher Guide
Unit: Let’s Learn About Soil
UNIT PLAN
UNIT TITLE Let’s Learn about soil
MONTH
October
GOAL
In this lesson, students will begin to understand the difference between ‘dirt’ and soil and discover
how soil is formed. Students will learn the meaning of organic and inorganic. If possible, they
will examine soils closely and evaluate the differences in its properties due to origin, location and
climate. Students should begin to realize that soil, especially healthy soil, is important to all living
creatures.
OBJECTIVES
Students will:
1. Listen to and repeat simple directions by stating the procedure of collecting a soil sample from
his or her backyard (NYS Learning Standard 3a: Universal Foundation Skills: Elementary 1).
2. Use basic mathematical concepts and computations (subtraction, division) to solve problems
(NYS Learning Standard 3a: Universal Foundation Skills: Elementary 1).
3. Listen to date to acquire information and understanding, involving collecting data and
discovering relationships (NYS Learning Standard 1: Language for Information and
Understanding: Elementary 1).
4. Gather and interpret information from charts, graphs, and maps (NYS Learning Standard 1:
Language for Information and Understanding: Elementary 1).
5. Listen attentively and recognize when it is appropriate for them to speak, by taking turns and
responding to others’ ideas in group discussions (NYS Learning Standard 4: Language for
Social Interaction: Elementary 1).
6. Use scientific inquiry and ask “why” questions to develop explanations of why plants grow
differently in different soils, and why soils are different in different places (NYS Learning
Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry, and Design: Elementary 1).
7. Explore natural phenomena through direct observation and the use of simple instruments
(scale, ruler) that permit measurement of quantities (NYS Learning Standard 1: Analysis,
Inquiry, and Design: Elementary 2).8. Gain new insights into phenomena by organizing observations and measurements by preparing simple charts and interpreting observations and
measurements to recognize patterns and relationships (NYS Learning Standard 1: Analysis,
Inquiry, and Design: Elementary 3).
9. Use measurement to describe and compare objects and data by selecting appropriate measurement tools, finding measures of length, weight, volume, and density, collecting
and displaying the data, and used graphs and tables to interpret the data (NYS Learning
Standard 3: Mathematics: Elementary 5).
10. Describe the characteristics of and variations between living and nonliving things (NYS Learning Standard 4: Science: Elementary 1 Living Environment).
11. Draw maps to represent and locate where they live in the local community and locate areas
with different soil types (NYS Learning Standard 3: Geography: Elementary 1).
12. Explain the importance of managing soil to agricultural production (Food and Fiber Systems
Literacy: Understanding Food and Fiber Systems, 4-5).
CONTINUED...
13. Explain how geography influences food and fiber production (Food and Fiber Systems Literacy:
History, Geography, and Culture, 6-8).
14. Discover how ecosystems regenerate (Food and Fiber Systems Literacy: Science, Technology,
and Environment, 4-5).
15. Describe the components of an ecosystem (Food and Fiber Systems Literacy: Science, Technology, and Environment, 2-3).
TERMS
Bacteria - a one-celled organism that can live in soil, water, organic matter, plants, and animals
and is important for decomposition
Clay - a very fine-grained part of the soil, with particles smaller than 0.002mm in diameter;
becomes sticky when it is wet
Components - elements or parts that make up a whole
Erosion - the process by which material is worn away from the surface of the earth by the action
of water, glaciers, winds, waves, etc.
Fungus - an organism, like mushrooms, that decomposes and absorbs organic material and
nutrients
Inorganic Matter - composed of matter that is not plant or animal, not living
Magnification - the process of making something look larger, as with a magnifying glass or
microscope
Nutrition - the process by which organisms take in and use food for energy and growth
Organic Matter - something that comes from living organisms, such as plants and animals
Oxygen - a gas that makes up 1/5 of the air we breathe; most abundant element in the Earth’s
crust, essential for plant and animal respiration
Parent Materials - the underlying material that soil forms from, such as bedrock
Particle - a very small piece or portion
Silt - a fine-grained part of the soil, with a size in between sand and clay
Soil Horizon - a layer in a vertical section of soil, usually lettered A, B, C, beginning at the surface
Surface - the outermost or upper level of the land or sea
Texture - the physical qualities of something such as its size, shape, or arrangement of its parts
Integrated Pest Management is a specialized form of environmental management wherein scientific
research and real world application work together to reduce pests such as insects, diseases or
weeds.
1. Properly identify pests
2. Learn the pest/ host biology
3. Sample the environment for pests
4. Determine an action threshold
5. Choose the best tactic
6. Evaluate results
SAFETY
General school safety practices.
Standards Matrix for this Lesson:
10 Let’s Learn About Soil 3a:2 e1 3a:2 e1
1:3 e1
1:3 e1
1:7 e1
4:5 e1
1:7 e2
1:7 e1
I B 4-5
3:16 e1
II D 6-8
Interconnectedness
Other Languages
CDOS
Food & Fiber
Literacy
ARTS
HEALTH
Social Studies
English Language
Arts
Math/Science/and
Technology
Unit
Month
Standards:
III A 4-5
III A 2-3
1:7 e3
3:9 e5
4:10 e1
Matrix Key:
NYS Learning Standards arranged by Standard: Category, Level
e = elementary i = intermediate
Categories:
1 Career Development
10 Science
2 Universal Foundation Skills
11 Technology
3 Language for Information and Understanding
12 Interconnectedness: Common Themes
4 Language for Literary Response and Expression 13 Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
5 Language for Social Interaction
14 History of the U.S. and New York
6 Communication Skills
15 World History
7 Analysis, Inquiry, and Design
16 Geography
8 Information Systems
17 Economics
9 Mathematics
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
http://school.discovery.com/schooladventures/soil/
http://soil.gsfc.nasa.gov/
“Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Rocks and Minerals” (ISBN 0-671-24417-5)
SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT
pencil/pen, scissors, glue
To gather soil: shovels, trowels, buckets, zipper-style plastic bags
To examine soil: magnifying lenses, plastic sheeting or old vinyl tablecloths
BACKGROUND FOR TEACHERS
Soil covers much of the land on Earth. All soils are made up of sand, silt, or clay. This describes
the particle sizes, not the type of parent material it is composed of. Parent materials are
the types of rocks and minerals it is derived from. Soils have other components: air, water and
organic matter (decomposing plants and animals). There are many types of soils, and each
has different colors, textures, structure and mineral content. The depth of the soil also varies.
Soil is formed slowly as rock breaks down into tiny pieces near the Earth’s surface. This is
called erosion and results from the effects of wind, water, geological movement and freezing
and thawing. Most soil has some amount of organic matter, which decays and mixes with
inorganic matter (rock particles, minerals) and water to form the makeup of each particular
soil. Soil is catalogued around the world, and in the United States, is mapped by type in each
county and state. A soils map is available at public libraries to document the type of soils found
right in your neighborhood. New York is a great agricultural state because we have good soils for
plants.
Soil is layered (horizons); the upper A Horizon has more organic matter, water and air. This
is good for plants. The lower layers tend to be less broken down, with less organic matter, air
and water.
Once students understand the nature of soil, they may see a difference between “soil” and “dirt.”
Remind them that plants grow in soil, and that it is an intricate environment of living and non-living
things.
An important property of soil is active, living soil microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi
(fungus) and mites. Some things can be seen with a hand lens or magnifying lens. We can only
see bacteria with a microscope.
Soil Fungus - good fungi help plants get nutrients from the soil.
Mites - soil mites eat good and bad fungus. They carry bacteria around on their backs! They
are an important part of healthy soil.
Bacteria - Bacteria can be good or bad. 1000 bacteria can fit on the head of a pin. They
decompose other elements of the soil into nutrients. When you smell “soil” in the springtime, you
are smelling bacteria at work after a long winter!
Spiders, beetles, earthworms, ants and many other arthropods are some of the visible members
of the soil community.
Soil is important to every living creature on Earth. All living things need an energy source; a
majority of it is based on plant life at the bottom of the food chain. Poor soils do not contain
minerals needed by plants and other living creatures. Healthy soils pass on minerals to plants,
which pass them on to us. Soil must be cared for.
ACTIVITY PAGES INCLUDED IN THIS UNIT
What is Soil?
Is Soil “Dirt?”
How is Soil Formed?
What is in Soil?
What Does Organic Mean?
Let’s Collect Soil
Can Soils Be Different?
Why is Soil Important
A Food Chain
Test Your Knowledge
QUESTIONS FOR STUDENTS
What is soil?
Is soil dirt?
How is soil formed?
What does organic mean?
What is in soil?
How can we collect soil?
Can soils be different? Why?
Why is soil important?
Is soil part of the food chain?
INTEREST APPROACH ACTIVITIES
Background:
Soil is the foundation for life. It is like the Earth’s building blocks. Soil is made of particles of
rock, decomposed animals, and decomposed (by the action of microorganisms) plants, leaves,
and grass from lawn mowing. The world’s 6 billion people depend on soil for their food, clothing,
and shelter.
Soil texture and many other soil characteristics are determined by the relative amounts of sand,
silt, and clay that are present. Sand is a naturally occurring, finely divided rock, made up of particles (or granules) ranging in size from 0.063 mm to 2 mm. An individual particle in this range
size is termed a sand grain. The next larger size class above sand is gravel, with particles ranging up to 64 mm. Silt is the next smallest size class below sand. Its particles range from 0.063
mm down to 0.004 mm in size. Clay is made of particles less than 0.002 mm in size and can
become sticky and putty-like when wet.
MAKING MUD BALLS
Materials required: * water
* containers (ie. jar or Styrofoam cup)
* rulers
1. Find an area outside where you can dig a hole.
2. Have students get a handful of soil. (Provide plastic gloves if desired.)
3. Add a little bit of water to the soil. Do not have students add too much water. If it starts running through their fingers, it’s time to stop! More soil can be added to thicken runny soil.
4. Squeeze soil and make a mud ball.
5. Now make the mud ball into a long cylinder, approximately 1/2” thick.
6. Holding it in a loose fist and slowly pushing it upright, see how long it gets before breaking
off.
7. Now examine the soil characteristics (color, any odor?, any rocks?) and use the chart to determine the soil type.
Characteristics
Crumbly
Sticky
Loose Lumps
Soil Type
Sandy
Clay
Sandy Loam
8. Look for a relationship between the soil type and length.
*Option: Teacher could save soil for next demonstration.
(For related activities please refer to student worksheet #7)
“TAKE AND SHAKE” SOIL TEXTURE EXPERIMENT
Materials required: * mayonnaise jar or similar glass jar
* soil
* water
Day 1:
1. Find an area somewhere near the school to dig soil (two or three different places if possible).
2. Demonstrate to the students the safe use of tools.
3. Getting a Soil Sample: Explain to the class that when they take a soil sample, they should
not just dig at the surface. Direct students to dig approximately 8 inches for samples with
shovel or trowels.
a. Dig down about 8 inches
b. Take a soil sample (enough to fill the jar about 1/3 of the way).
c. Return to classroom
e. Add water until the jar is about 3/4 full, put lid on jar.
f. Taking turns, shake the jar to mix.
g. Continue until big clumps are broken
h. Let jar sit for 90 seconds.
i. Use a permanent marker to make a line where soil has settled.
j. Let jar sit and settle for 2 days.
k. Students write predictions to the following questions as a journal assignment.
Discuss with students how soil is formed and that it is made of different size particles. Let students
know that sand makes the heaviest particles. (Refer to background information)
Student Questions:
1. What things in the soil should be at the bottom of the jar?
2. What will make up the middle?
3. What will be at the top?
4. What might float?
* Organic matter will float to the top (nutrients for plant growth)
* Top layer should be clay
* Middle layer will be silt
* Bottom layer will be sand
After 2 Days:
1. Students to investigate the layers and compare to their predictions through class discussion.
(For related activities please refer to student worksheet #3, #4 & #5)
BACKYARD SOIL SCIENTISTS
Background: The school district covers a large area of land. There is a wide range of difference in the
quality of soil. In this demonstration, students should discover that different areas produce different
results with plant propagation.
Materials required: * Styrofoam cups (1 each)
* Marigold Seeds (3 each)
* Empty coffee creamer containers (1 each)
* Scale or balance
* Town map (available at the public library or town offices)
1. Each child is given a Styrofoam cup.
2. Weigh an empty cup.
3. AT HOME: Use a trowel to fill the cup with soil from your yard.
4. Identify on the town map each student’s home.
5. Weigh each student’s filled cup, subtract the weight of the empty cup, and chart results on the
chalkboard.
6. Using the volume of the cup, calculate the denisty of each student’s soil sample.
7. Add densities to chart and make a bar graph from the results.
8. NEXT DAY: Each student will be given 3 marigold seeds to plant. Seeds to be planted 1/4”
deep in a triangle formation.
9. Label cups with name, date, and “marigold.”
10. Place cups near natural light or under grow lights.
11. Each student is given a small empty creamer container and directed to water once a day before attendance is taken.
12. Students record their daily observations in a journal. tudents could include drawings as seeds
begin to sprout.
13. After 2 weeks make conclusions about which backyards had the best results and why. (nutrients, texture, density of soil)
SUMMARY OF CONTENT
i. How much do you know about soil?
II. An apple and the earth
A. Use an apple as an example to show how
much soil there is on the earth by removing 3/4 of the apple.
III. How is soil formed?
A. Soil makeup
B. Soil profiles
C. Layers in the soil
IV. What is in soil?
A. Erosion
B. Inorganic matter
C. Soil horizon
V. What does organic mean?
A. Texture
B. Organic matter
C. Fungus
D. Bacteria
VI. Differences in soil
A. Parent materials
B. Environment
VII. Why is soil important?
A. Soil is important for every living thing.
VIII. Food chain
A. Sun
B. Soil
C. Everything else: plants, aphids, ladybugs,
frogs, snakes, eagles, etc.
IX. Food chain: The Eagle
X. Vocabulary
XI. Review activity sheet
TEACHING-LEARNING ACTIVITIES
I. How much do you know about soil?
A. Soil definition
B. What makes up soil?
C. What is the difference between soil and
dirt?
II. An apple and the earth
A. How much of the earth is covered by
water?
B. What fractional part is left?
C. From what remains: what land mass
cannot be used for farming?
III. How is soil formed?
A. What does soil profile mean?
B. Why is New York a great agricultural
state?
IV. What is in soil?
A. Name the particles that make up soil.
B. What is erosion?
C. Why is the upper layer of soil darker?
V. What does organic mean?
A. Explain the term “organic.”
B. What does inorganic mean?
C. Why are fungus and bacteria important for healthy soil?
VI. Differences in soil
A. Would reddish soil be good for growing
plants? Explain your answer.
B. How do parent materials cause soil
to be different?
C. How does environment cause soil to be
different?
VII. Why is soil important?
A. Name edible plants
B. Are there animals that you eat?
C. What do animals eat?
D. Draw the three basic parts of the food
chain.
VIII. Food chain
A. Illustrate the food chain.
IX. Food chain: The Eagle
A. Cut and paste the eagle’s food chain.
X. Vocabulary
XI. Review activity sheet
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
What is soil?
Is soil dirt?
How is soil formed?
What does organic mean?
What is in soil?
How can we collect soil?
Can soils be different?
Why?
What can we learn
by examining soil?
Why is soil important?
Is soil part of the food chain?
Compare the
two photographs
of soil. What
makes them
different?
Student Worksheet 1
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
What is soil?
Soil is a thin covering of land areas on the Earth’s surface. It has many sizes
of particles, and is made up of minerals, organic matter, water, and air. It is
important to all living creatures.
Soil covers much of the land on Earth.
What covers most of the Earth’s surface?
Is Soil “Dirt?”
You might think that dirt and soil
areWorksheet
the same
Student
1 things. However, soil is the
substance plants grow in. When an adult says your room is dirty, it doesn’t mean it
is full of soil. (Although your hands may become dirty by playing in the soil.)
Remember to use the term soilStudent
to describe
Worksheetthe
1 useful part of the Earth’s surface
needed for plant growth. Plants use soil for nutrition, water, oxygen, and
stability.
Student Worksheet 2
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
How is soil formed?
Soil is formed from large rocks that have broken down over time by forces of nature.
There are many types of soil, each with different colors and textures. These are
called soil properties. Can you see layers in the soil profiles below?
One soil
profile is from
New York
State.
One is from
Florida.
Do you see a
difference?
Which one
is from New
York?
A soil profile is a way to look
at the layers in soil. When
someone digs a hole in the
ground, you may see the
difference in these layers.
In New York State, the soil
closest to the surface is
usually darker. We will learn
why. Can you guess?
New York State is a great
agricultural state because
we have good soil for plants.
Student Worksheet 3
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
What is in soil?
Soil is formed slowly as rocks break down into tiny pieces, through erosion.
Organic matter decays and mixes with inorganic matter and water to form
soil. Soil even has air in it!
Soil is layered. The upper layer, or soil horizon, has more organic matter and
water, causing it to be darker. Plant roots use this area to get nutrition, water and
oxygen.
Soil is described by its particle size. All soil is made up of sand, silt, and clay.
The larger, or coarser, particles are sand. The smallest particles cling together
to make clay.
Student Worksheet 4
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
What does organic mean?
When talking about soil, organic means something that is alive or was once alive.
Things like leaves and animals can be alive. When they are no longer alive, they
can still be called organic. Organic matter is an important part of soil because
it adds nutrients and improves the texture.
Inorganic matter means something that was never alive.
What is an example of something that is not alive, and never was?
______________________________________
Soil is made up of both organic and inorganic matter. Usually soil that has
organic matter is very good for plants. It also contains living creatures that we
can see and some we can’t see. Fungus and bacteria are important parts of
healthy soil.
Fungus and bacteria can’t always be seen in the soil and may require
magnification. Fungus and bacteria help break down organic matter so
that plants can get the nutrients they need to be healthy. Soils that do not have any
organic matter, fungus or bacteria are usually not good for plants.
What other creatures live in the soil?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
Student Worksheet 5
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
Let’s collect soil and learn more about it.
With a shovel or trowel, gather soil from two or three different places, such as near a
sidewalk, and in a garden or field. If you can, collect from a third site that is different
from the other two, such as from under a tree, or across town.
Go ahead and fill the bags, as you can use them for experiments later.
(Your teacher may have already done this step.)
The first soil activity will show you the different components of soil.
Fill a mayonnaise jar or similar jar about halfway. Add
water till the water level is about 3/4 of the jar.
--3/4--
Close tightly and shake the soil and water to mix.
Let the jar sit for at least two days. Don’t move it.
When the water is almost clear, you will see that the soil
has settled.
What things in the soil should be at the bottom of the jar?
___________________________________________________________
Do you think you will see layers? Why?
___________________________________________________________
What might float in the water?
___________________________________________________________
Student Worksheet 6
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
Can soils be different? Why?
If you can, examine some of your collected soil on a table covered with plastic. Use
magnifying lenses. Soils may look, feel and smell differently.
Circle the things that describe your soil:
wet
no stones
dry
has sticks in it
sandy
has worms in it
smooth
crumbly
sticky
has leaves in it
dark
has an odor
light
does not have an odor
full of stones
Other: _______________
Look at the soil photographs on page 2. One shows reddish soil from the western
U.S. It has a lot of minerals but not a lot of organic matter. Do you think it would be
good for plants?
Soil is different because it is created from rocks and boulders. This is called parent
material. Because rocks in different parts of the country are made of different
types of parent material (granite, limestone, shale, quartz) the soil is different, too.
Another reason soils are different is because of the environment. N.Y. soils have
a lot of organic matter and appear a darker brown. Do you think that having
a lot of trees and plants around adds organic matter? Rainfall and snow help
organic matter decompose.
Student Worksheet 7
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
Why is soil important?
Soil is very important for every living thing. Sun and soil are needed for plant growth
in the food chain. Most animals and insects depend on plants for food. Do you?
Name some plants you eat:
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Do you eat any animals or any of their products? What do they eat?
__________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________
Draw a simple food chain with these three parts:
Soil, Plant, Human
Student Worksheet 8
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
We don’t eat soil (or at least we shouldn’t) but is it part of our food chain? Cut and
paste the pictures from the next page to complete the eagle’s food chain.
Each part of the chain passes on energy to the next part.
Should we protect each part of the food chain?
The SUN provides
energy for plants to
grow.
The SOIL gives plants
nutrients and stability.
PLANTS are
“producers” of energy
for almost all
animals on earth.
Small insects like
APHIDS feed on
plants. They are
“consumers”. Animals
that eat only plants are
called
herbivores.
Larger insects like
LADYBUGS eat
aphids.
FROGS or toads eat
insects.
SNAKES eat small
animals like toads,
frogs or mice.
Large birds like
EAGLES eat snakes.
Student Worksheet 9
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil
Cut out the illustrations below and paste them into the Eagle’s food chain.
Student Worksheet 9-B
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil: What did you learn?
Does soil cover all of the Earth?
yes____
no____
Is soil formed by wind and water breaking down rocks (erosion?)
yes____
Circle the things that are organic:
earthworms
leaves
no____
rocks
a dead insect
Are soils the same everywhere?
yes____
no____
Why is soil important to you?
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
Soil is made up of three types of soil particles:
_ _ _ _, s i l t, and c l a y
Are air and water in soil?
yes____
Student Worksheet 10
no____
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil: Vocabulary
Bacteria - a one-celled organism that can live in soil, water, organic matter, plants, and animals
and is important for decomposition
Clay - a very fine-grained part of the soil, with particles smaller than 0.002mm in diameter;
becomes sticky when it is wet
Components - elements or parts that make up a whole
Erosion - the process by which material is worn away from the surface of the earth by the action
of water, glaciers, winds, waves, etc.
Fungus - an organism, like mushrooms, that decomposes and absorbs organic material and
nutrients
Inorganic Matter - composed of matter that is not plant or animal, not living
Magnification - the process of making something look larger, as with a magnifying glass or
microscope
Nutrition - the process by which organisms take in and use food for energy and growth
Organic Matter - something that comes from living organisms, such as plants and animals
Oxygen - a gas that makes up 1/5 of the air we breathe; most abundant element in the Earth’s
crust, essential for plant and animal respiration
Parent Materials - the underlying material that soil forms from, such as bedrock
Particle - a very small piece or portion
Silt - a fine-grained part of the soil, with a size in between sand and clay
Soil Horizon - a layer in a vertical section of soil, usually lettered A, B, C, beginning at the surface
Surface - the outermost or upper level of the land or sea
Texture - the physical qualities of something such as its size, shape, or arrangement of its parts
Soil Profile, Ecosystem and Soil Map used with permission from the Natural Resources
Conservation Service as a service of the US Department of Agriculture.
Soil Profile, Ecosystem and Soil Map used with permission from the Natural Resources
Conservation Service as a service of the US Department of Agriculture.
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil - Geology Supplement
For Budding Geologists:
What is a rock?
A rock can be large or small, but it is made up of two or more minerals.
Number these rock types from smallest to largest size
__sand grains are tiny pieces of rock
__mountains are huge, giant hunks of rock which are part of
the earth’s crust
__pebbles can be held in your fingers
__dust is the smallest size
__boulders are larger than people
__stones are small enough to hold in your hands
What is a mineral?
A mineral is a substance that is the same all the way through. Rocks are
classified by their size and what they are made of. Minerals are classified by their
characteristics. Some minerals are very beautiful and when cut and polished,
can become gemstones.
(Everything has characteristics - ways we can describe it. A person may be tall,
or have dark skin, or like to sing. hose are their characteristics.)
Do you think these rocks are made of the same minerals? Do they have the
same characteristics? They probably were formed in different ways.
name____________________________
Student Lesson: Let’s Learn about Soil: Geology Supplement
Remember! Rocks are made of two or more minerals.
Minerals are studied and organized by their
color, luster (shiny or dull), weight, hardness and
how they breaks apart. Some minerals are
clear, and light travels through them.
Bedrock is what we call rock below the surface soil. It can be any type of rock
and can be a few inches below the surface to many feel below. The bedrock in
western New York State is mostly sedimentary. The bedrock in the mountain
areas of New York State are mostly igneous or metamorphic These are the
three main ways rock is formed from minerals.
Limestone rock is very common in New York State. It is made up of calcite.
Research calcite and write two sentences that describe its characteristics.
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Vocabulary for Geology Supplement:
Characteristics: a feature or trait that helps to identify something
Igneous: rock formed by fire; generally was in a liquid state and cooled to a solid
Geologists: people who study the origin, formation and structure of the Earth’s land
Metamorphic: rock formed and changed by extreme heat, pressure and sometimes
the addition of chemical actions
Mineral: a naturally occurring inorganic element; there are many types of minerals
that vary in color, structure, and hardness
Sedimentary: sedimentary rocks are formed by the settling of inorganic solids in
liquid which has dried
Teacher Information for Student Worksheets
Student Worksheet 1.
Read the soil questions in a group setting, then have a discussion about the photographs.
Students may recognize that the top photo shows rich farm soil supporting a new crop. The
bottom photo is probably from the western U.S. The farm soil is dark and rich and probably
has a lot of moisture in it, as well as organic matter. The western soil may well be very rich
in minerals, such as iron or copper to cause its color, but due to the arid climate and lack of
organic matter such as leaves and earthworms, these soils may be considered unusable for
farming.
Student Worksheet 2
Sometimes soil gets no respect! “Dirt” can be a pretty negative word. Throughout these activities,
students may start to understand the properties of and importance of soil. Soil should be
protected; it is an irreplaceable resource when not taken care of.
The oceans cover most of the Earth’s surface, and when you consider the amount of land that is
covered with snow and ice, blacktop and bare mountaintops, soil becomes even more important.
Student Worksheet 3
Soil profiles: Each state actually has its own kind of soil. Florida’s looks a bit sandy, but we know
they have a huge agricultural industry. There are probably hundreds of soil profiles found in each
state, so a dark, rich farm soil can be found there also.
Student Worksheet 4
You may suggest students look for a copy of the “soil triangle” in the library or online.
By placing a small amount of soil sample and water into a test tube and letting it settle out,
farmers, horticulturalists, geologists and engineers can estimate what percentage of the soil is
sand, silt, and clay. If it is mostly clay, it’s a clay soil. The prime soil for agriculture is called loam.
It is a soft mix of sand, silt, and clay, and clumps when wet but breaks apart easily. Sand is very
porous and does not retain nutrients and water long enough for most crops.
Student Worksheet 5.
1. rocks, pebbles, minerals
2. Earthworms, ants, beetles, nematodes, ticks, spiders, pill bugs, sow bugs, centipedes,
millipedes, moles, wasps, bees, etc.
When discussing soil, organic refers to something that is alive or was once alive. If it was never
alive at all - like a rock - then it is inorganic. This is a good discussion point. Is a wooden fence
organic? A book? A leather glove? Trees were once alive, but what about leather? Remind
students that leather is a by-product of animals, and because leather is part of something that was
once living, it is organic.
Organic items will break down much faster than inorganic items. This is why soil is created so
slowly. A rock will sit and seem to stay the same for hundreds of years.
Student Worksheet 6.
1. Rocks, pebbles, silt, etc.
2. Yes, because some soil components vary in weight, size, and texture
3. Organic matter (pieces of leaves, bark, etc.)
Student Worksheet 7
There are many good sources of information on rocks and geology. Perhaps you know of
someone who collects rocks and minerals, or your library has a good reference book.
We’ve added a supplement to further discuss geology, because many students exhibit an interest
in rocks and minerals.
Student Worksheet 8
Answers will vary
Student Worksheet 9
Cut out the pictures on the second sheet of the activity and paste into the circles on the food
chain, or have students draw the pictures in the circles.
Student Worksheet 10
1. No
2. Yes
3. Earthworms, leaves, dead insect
4. No
5. Students should begin to understand that soil should be taken care of because healthy soil is
the basis of plant life. Plants are the basic food source for all animals and humans, directly or
indirectly.
6. Sand
7. Yes