Welcome to the Soil4Youth Teaching Activities and Lesson Plans Resource page – a compilation of soil science activities for high school students. The overriding objective of all of these soil activities is to introduce youth to the complexities of soil management, and foster an appreciation for soil as a valuable resource.

Each activity (presented separately below) includes:

  • learning objectives
  • list of Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs)
  • list of materials
  • description of set-up and description of principles being demonstrated
  • photo/illustrations

The activities are outlined in very general lesson plan, and the majority of these activities can be altered to suit any particular grade.

Incorporation of these activities into the classroom can help teachers to meet the BC Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for the following courses:

  • Science 8-10
  • Earth Science 11
  • Biology 11
  • Chemistry 11
  • Science and Technology 11
  • Geography 12
  • Sustainable Resources 11/12
  • Geology 12

LESSON PLAN 1: Soil Hand Texturing


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 1: Soil Hand Texturing

Soil texture is a soil property that can tell us a lot about the nutrient supply capability and water management needs for a given soil. This lesson introduces students to a very useful technique that is commonly used by soil scientists and other land managers in the field – hand texturing.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Soil Hand Texturing” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:Science 8, 9, 10 – Processes of Science (A1-A6)

Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F3)

Geology 12 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1, F2)

Chemistry 11 – The Nature of Matter (B3-B5)

Learning Objectives:

  • Observe the differences between fine and coarse textured soil
  • Determine which soil texture (fine vs. coarse) has better drainage and nutrient holding abilities
  • Become familiar with the tests used by soil scientists to work through a hand-texturing key (as would be used in the field)

LESSON PLAN 2: Find Your Soil (using soil maps)


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 2: Find Your Soil (using soil maps)

Soil maps for British Columbia and other parts of Canada are available both in print and online, and can help to inform land-use decisions. This lesson challenges students to first learn how to use an online map system, and to then make conclusions about land-use suitability based on that map.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Find Your Soil” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F3)

Geology 12 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1, F2)

Sustainable Resources 11 – Agriculture (A1, A3, A6); Forestry (C1, C3, C6)

Sustainable Resources 12 – Agriculture (D4); Forestry (A3, B3, B4, C5, E4)

Science & Technology 11 – Natural Resources and the Environment (E4)

Geography 12 – Biomes (E2-E4); Resources and Environmental Sustainability (F2)

Learning Objectives:

  • Be aware that there are many different types of soils in a given community, and that the different soils have their own names
  • Recognize that soil maps can be used to make land management decisions

LESSON PLAN 3: Earthworm Farm


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 3: Earthworm Farm

Although many people are familiar with earthworms, people are not typically as familiar with the important roles played by earthworms in the soil. Having an earthworm farm is a fun way to bring in an educational, temporary (and non-conventional) classroom pet.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Earthworm Farm” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:

  • Science 10 – Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems (B1, B3)
  • Biology 11 – Taxonomy (B1); Ecology (D1); Animal Biology (G1, G3)
  • Geography 12 – Biomes (E1-E4); Resources and Environmental Sustainability (F2)
  • Sustainable Resources 11 – Agriculture (A2); Forestry (C2, C3)
  • Sustainable Resources 12 – Agriculture (B4, D4); Forestry (B1-B4, E2, E4)
  • Processes of Science (A1-A3); Taxonomy (B1); Ecology (D1); Animal Biology (G1, G4)
  • Biology 11 – Processes of Science (A2); Taxonomy (B1); Ecology (D1); Animal Biology (G1, G3)

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe why earthworms are the “mixers and shredders” of the soil
  • Identify earthworm biopores and casts in the soil
  • Explain how biopores improve water movement, and how casts improve nutrient availability
  • Identify that earthworms are indicative of a healthy soil

LESSON PLAN 4: Protecting Our Soils


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 4: Protecting Our Soils

Soil is a non-renewable resource that is crucial for the world’s food production, making high levels of erosion around the world very concerning. This lesson plan consists of two main activities: (1) the “Apple Talk”, demonstrating the limited amount of topsoil in the world, and (2) a demonstration of erosion under different soil conditions.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Protecting Our Soils” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:

  • Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1-F3)
  • Geology 12 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1, F4)
  • Geography 12 – Themes and Skills (A2-A4); Gradational Processes (C1-C3); Weather and Climate (D2, D5-D7); Biomes (E3); Resources and Environmental Sustainability (F1, F2)

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize soil as a valuable, non-renewable resource
  • Describe the negative impacts to water and soil quality by water erosion
  • Describe how vegetation and organic matters helps in the prevention of erosion

LESSON PLAN 5: Six Ecosystem Functions of Soil


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 5: Six Ecosystem Functions of Soil

Students often do not think of soil as an important resource in the world because they are unaware of what the functions of soil are. Use this lesson to open the eyes of students to the many important ecosystem services that the soil provides us.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Six Ecosystem Functions of Soil” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:

  • Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1-F3)
  • Geology 12 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1, F4)
  • Geography 12 – Themes and Skills (A2-A4); Gradational Processes (C1-C3); Weather and Climate (D2, D5-D7); Biomes (E3); Resources and Environmental Sustainability (F1, F2)

Learning Objectives:

  • Interpret and identify the six main categories of functions performed by the soil

LESSON PLAN 6: Soil Order Competition


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 6: Soil Order Competition

There are many different types of soils in Canada, all with their own unique characteristics. In this lesson, students learn about the different types of soil found all over Canada by selecting one type of soil to learn about, and sharing that information with the class in the style of a competition for “Canada’s Best Soil”.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Soil Order Competition” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:

  • Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1-F3)
  • Geology 12 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1, F4)
  • Geography 12 – Themes and Skills (A2-A4); Gradational Processes (C1-C3); Weather and Climate (D2, D5-D7); Biomes (E3); Resources and Environmental Sustainability (F1, F2)

Learning Objectives:

  • Know that there are multiple levels of soil classification in the Canadian Soil Classification System, with soil Order being the largest scale.
  • Name all 10 Canadian soil Orders.
  • Become familiar with at least one soil order in detail.

LESSON PLAN 7: Macro- and Meso-fauna Extraction


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 7: Macro- and Meso-fauna Extraction

There is a lot of life below our feet – a single teaspoon of soil can hold over one billion microbes! In this lesson, students use hands-on methods to learn about species richness and diversity in a habitat not commonly explored – the belowground ecosystem.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Macro- and Meso-Fauna Extraction” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:

  • Science 10 – Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems (B1, B3)
  • Biology 11 – Taxonomy (B1); Ecology (D1); Animal Biology (G1, G3)
  • Geography 12 – Biomes (E1-E4); Resources and Environmental Sustainability (F2)
  • Sustainable Resources 11 – Agriculture (A2); Forestry (C2, C3)
  • Sustainable Resources 12 – Agriculture (B4, D4); Forestry (B1-B4, E2, E4)
  • Processes of Science (A1-A3); Taxonomy (B1); Ecology (D1); Animal Biology (G1, G4)
  • Biology 11 – Processes of Science (A2); Taxonomy (B1); Ecology (D1); Animal Biology (G1, G3)

Learning Objectives:

  • Become familiar with the various ecosystem roles played by soil fauna.
  • Define, extract, and quantify soil macro- and meso-fauna.
  • Calculate richness and species diversity to compare the soil biology of different soil types, and then speculate as to why the different soil environments could cause these observations.

LESSON PLAN 8: Mini Soil Monoliths


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 8: Mini Soil Monoliths

Soil monoliths represent a cross-section of a soil pit. Students can make their own miniature soil monoliths to understand how and why the soil changes with depth.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Mini Soil Monoliths” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:

  • Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1-F3)
  • Geology 12 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1, F4)
  • Geography 12 – Themes and Skills (A2-A4); Gradational Processes (C1-C3); Weather and Climate (D2, D5-D7); Biomes (E3); Resources and Environmental Sustainability (F1, F2)

Learning Objectives:

  • Become aware that the soil is composed of multiple layers called “horizons”

LESSON PLAN 9: Cinematic Soils


Download PDF version: LESSON PLAN 9: Cinematic Soils

Movies about soil can present facts from experts around the world and provide great material for further discussion about other environmental topics.Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Cinematic Soils” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:

  • Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1-F3)
  • Geology 12 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1, F4)
  • Geography 12 – Themes and Skills (A2-A4); Gradational Processes (C1-C3); Weather and Climate (D2, D5-D7); Biomes (E3); Resources and Environmental Sustainability (F1, F2)

Learning Objectives:

  • Become engaged in the many ways soil health applies to human society

LESSON PLAN 10: Organic Acid Leaching Demo


Download PDF version:LESSON PLAN 10: Organic Acid Leaching Demo

In this lab, students are shown that organic matter is made up of three different types of compounds, each with varying levels of resistance to decomposition. This has an impact on nutrient availability for plants. This is a more advanced soil science lab that involves a greater level of detail in soil chemistry. Due to the complexity and detail, it may not be suited for many high school science classroom settings; however, it may provide an interesting chemistry lab for an advanced science course!Prescribed learning outcomes (PLO) are content standards for the provincial education system; they are the prescribed curriculum. The “Organic Acid Leaching Demo” lesson plan will help students to achieve the following BC PLOs:

  • Science 10 – Processes of Science (A1-A6); Physical Science: Chemical Reactions and Radioactivity (C1, C2, C4)
  • Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1)
  • Chemistry 11 – Skills and Processes of Chemistry (A1-A3); The Nature of Matter (B1, B5); Mole Concept (C2); Chemical Reactions (D1-D5)
  • Chemistry 12 – Reaction Kinetics (A1, A2); Nature of Acids and Bases (D3); Applications of Acid-Base Reactions (F1)
  • Geography 12 – Themes and Skills (A2-A4)
  • Science 8, 9, 10 – Processes of Science (A1-A6)
  • Earth Science 11 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F3)
  • Geology 12 – Surface Processes and the Hydrosphere (F1, F2)

Learning Objectives:

  • Name and compare the 3 different forms of organic acids in soil organic matter in terms of their solubility
  • Experiment with the solubility of soil organic matter components in varying acidities, using rainwater (slightly acidic, pH 5.6), acid rain (acidic, pH 1.5-3.0), and over-liming (alkaline, pH 7.5-8.0) as examples of real world leaching situations
  • See the connections between the different organic acids, nutrient availability, and carbon sequestration

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