Getting a Feel for Soils - Lab

Cynthia Fadem, Earlham College

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This is a lab activity in which students start to put together what they have learned as separate soil attributes in the context of the world they know. This activity involves hypothesizing geologic and soils relationships using state and world maps, conducting texture-by-feel tests, reflecting on the definition of 'soil', and evaluating soil granulometric methods.

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I use this activity in my upper-level undergraduate elective, Soils. It is specific to Indiana, but could be easily adapted to other locales by substituting your own soil/geologic/terrain maps. It also lists specific samples relative to our other laboratory activities, but the instructor should substitute these for samples that serve their own course/assignment goals.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

content knowledge of soil orders
skills knowledge of geologic and terrain map-reading

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity stands alone, but I use samples from a previous lab. The skills that are applied here are also applied in written exams and all subsequent labs.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description and Teaching Materials

I conduct this as a group lab activity during which students work together and discuss what they know to apply it to familiar spatial and ecological relationships. The assignment goal is for them to explore their current content knowledge in the service of the larger course goals (and future field and laboratory work).

To implement this lab, all you need are some soil samples (or samples of soil-like materials) and maps of your home-state/country/region (if you do not want to use Indiana).

Getting a Feel for Soils - Lab - PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 1.9MB May20 13)
Getting a Feel for Soils - Lab - doc (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 2.4MB May20 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


References and Resources