TEACHER RESOURCES

Make science relevant for your students with a topic that affects them every day– soil. These free interactive lesson plans, videos, and classroom tools promote a deeper understanding of core science concepts as your students discover the complex world of soil. This hidden ecosystem not only supports food production, but nearly every form of life on Earth! Take your students on a fascinating journey to unearth the ways science is helping to feed them, their families, and the world.

Secondary content

Turn your classroom into a virtual lab with these six interactive lesson plans designed to engage varied learners, enhance digital literacy, and increase overall retention of core concepts. Students input and revise variables to observe different results and solutions, reinforcing key messages regarding plant nutrition, food production and food security.

LESSON 1: IN SEARCH OF ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS

In lesson one, students explore the meaning of essential nutrients. They use periodic tables to compare the elements essential to people and plants and make predictions as to where in the environment plants obtain each of their essential elements.

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LESSON 2: PROPERTIES OF SOIL

Through hands-on lab activities in lesson two, students examine different types of soil to investigate soil components and how air space allows each type of soil to hold and transmit water.

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LESSON 3: PLANT SOIL INTERACTIONS

Actual plant roots are examined and analyzed in lesson three. The diffusion process used by roots to absorb nutrients, and the transport of water through the xylem are demonstrated in visual lab activities.

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LESSON 4: PLANT NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES

Students discuss the need to restore nutrient balance in the soil to maintain healthy plants in lesson four. In the main activity, students assume the roles of plant doctors and diagnose nutrient deficiencies in crop plants. Teachers have the option of conducting this activity through an interactive Internet program, or through reference manuals in the classroom.

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LESSON 5: FERTILIZERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Lesson five bridges science to social issues. Students use estimates of population growth and land use to calculate how much additional farmland will be needed in the future to feed the growing world population. Students investigate the advantages and disadvantages of using organic and inorganic fertilizers, as well as the role of nutrient pollution and how to limit its negative effects.

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LESSON 6: NOURISHING THE PLANET IN THE 21ST CENTURY

In this concluding lesson, students discuss what challenges must be met in order to feed the world’s population in 2050. Students then analyze a list of 10 recommendations about farming and select the three they feel are most important, based on what they have learned about soil, plant growth and plant nutrients through a class discussion and debate.

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Watch Videos

Plant the seeds of curiosity with these engaging soil science videos.

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Tertiary content

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Not All Soils Are Created Equal

Soils are the foundations on which we build everything in our lives, but not all soils are created equal! Learn more about the different soil across the US.

Exploring Plant Nutrients

Plants, like people, require nutrients to grow. See if you can find the right mix of water, air, and nutrients to nurse this plant back to health!

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Teacher Toolkit

Want to help your fellow teachers bring science to life in their own classroom? Download this simple toolkit to spread the word about From the Ground Up: The Science of Soil.

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More Resources

Looking for even more valuable resources to help teach your students the science of soil? Request free supplemental materials on soil science from the Nutrients for Life Foundation, such as a periodic table poster, review flashcards, and resource manuals. Sign up today for Nutrients For Life Foundation’s educator newsletter to get fun tips and tools to help bring science to life in your classroom.

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