Soils —Field Characterization, Collection, and Laboratory Analysis
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection
Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Jun 6, 2013
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
-developing familiarity with lab setting (balances, oven)
-working in groups
Description and Teaching Materials
This sequence of field and laboratory "lab sessions" work well with groups of 3-4. Students' work and learning are reported in their field/lab notebooks, their calculations, and the depth of interpretations.
Day 1- students dig soil pits (or work in pre-dug soil pits), characterize soils in the field, and collect samples from O and B or C horizons to bring back to lab. Students pre-weigh samples and place samples in ~60-70 deg C oven to dry (and later quantify soil moisture)
Day 2- students post-weigh soils to quantify soil moisture content and take subsamples for analysis of soil organic carbon by loss on ignition. Bake samples ~6 hours to overnight in ~550 deg C oven. Use remainder of dried soil with series of seives to quantify grain size distribution (basically for pebble vs. sand vs. silt/clay).
Day 3- students post-weigh baked soils to quantify soil organic matter content and complete sieving to quantify grain size distribution. Students report their data on board and discuss reasons for differences among groups (to address human error), sites (to address different settings), depths (to address soil formation processes), etc. and complete summarizing their methods, results, and interpretations/conclusions.