Day 3: Soil Testing


Students will be able to evaluate soil samples in order to determine which varieties of crops/flowers would grow in that soil sample.

Lesson Overview

Different areas of the world have varying amounts of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources available. These resources may be utilized in many ways based on human needs. Obtaining and utilizing these resources will have a direct affect on the quality of the environment in a given area.

2, 45 minute periods for testing and analysis; 2 additional days for presentations
  • LaMotte Soil Test Kit
  • Supplies to assist with students mode of presentation

EngagementIntroduce the students to the two main macronutrients in the Chesapeake Bay soil, phosphorus and nitrogen.  Show different samples that have varying amounts of these nutrients.  Teacher will have to obtain these samples prior to this lesson. Locations can be obtained from the websites listed:


ExplorationWorking in groups of 3-4, students should take a sample of soil from the enclosed space. Teacher should ensure that the samples are taken from the same type of area. For example, if the area includes a pond, samples of one group should not be taken from the soil directly surrounding the water and other samples taken from a dry soil area.  It is suggested that all samples be taken from the area of focus for planting.


   In these groups, students should test for the levels of pH, phosphorous, and nitrogen.  Students should record this data in their journal.  Review results as a class.

  Follow directions as included in test kit. Check with school system for approved venders.  Type of kit should be selected based on required tests.  Kit used for this investigation was Model EL; 5679.

If needed, or preferred, the samples can be sent to a soil testing site; UMass is suggested.


ExtensionHave the students collect a sample from home.  Students should bring this sample in, and test levels for pH, phosphorous and nitrogen.

EvaluationCompare the two.  How are they same/ different?  A Venn Diagram is suggested to guide the student response. Why? Present the information to the class.  Presentations must use two or more visual aids: Pictures, Video, Music, Power Point, Charts/Graphs, Posters, Models, Website.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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