Soil Conservation Activities

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

Soil erosion wreaks havoc on our environment, and soil conservation is the effort to prevent erosion and improve the quality of soil. Use these hands-on activities to help your students understand how soil erosion happens and what people are doing to stop it.

Teaching about Soil Conservation

As you teach a unit about soil, your students will be interested in the ways in which people work to conserve soil. People work to limit soil erosion and maintain the quality of soil. Use these activities to help your students understand how erosion and soil quality degrade, and some of the ways that soil can be conserved.

Soil Erosion

Modeling Erosion

Materials:

  • plastic bottles
  • plastic cups
  • water
  • soil
  • sand
  • gravel
  • woodchips
  • clay

Cut plastic bottles in half and fill with a variety of soils. You might consider using soil mixed with sand, soil mixed with rocks or gravel, soil mixed with wood chips, or soil mixed with clay. Arrange the plastic bottles on a slant, and pour water at the highest point. As the water trickles down, students collect the run-off in plastic cups. Have students examine the water and discuss how much of the soil ended up in the cups.

Variation Using Plants

Materials

  • plastic bottles
  • soil
  • plants with shallow roots and deep roots
  • plastic cups
  • water

Cut plastic bottles in half and fill one with soil, one with soil and plants with shallow roots, and one with soil and plants with deeper roots. Pour water on the bottles, and have students collect the run-off in plastic cups. Discuss the results with students. Which one had the least soil in the water? Which one had the most? Why do you think this happened? What could humans do to prevent soil erosion?

Erosion Hunt

Materials

  • photographs of soil erosion
  • cameras

Examine photographs of soil erosion. If you can arrange for a field trip to a farm, have students hunt for evidence of soil erosion. Provide students with cameras so they can take their own photographs of the soil erosion. Students can interview the farmers to determine causes of soil erosion and how they try to deter it from happening on their farm.

If you cannot go on a field trip to a farm, write letters to farmers in the area, and ask them to send in photos of erosion happening on their land. Students can then write interview questions for the farmers, and you can email the questions and wait for their response.

Soil Quality

Soil Acidity

Materials

  • Tupperware
  • baking soda
  • water

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