Eco-Inquiry, an ecology curriculum for grades 5-8 helps teachers transform their classrooms into centers of ecological research.

Day 4: Exploring Plant and Soil Connection


Students prepare for and do an outdoor investigation of soil in areas where plants and other landscape feature differ, then use their findings to think about plant and soil connections.

Lesson Overview

Students will be able to: envision roots growing in the soil and taking in nutrients, are aware of some ways that ecologists study plant communities and help people manage land, can use visible differences in sites to predict differences in soil, know how to look for patterns in their data in order to make generalizations, can explain how soil could affect plant communities, and how living and dead plants can affect soil, are familiar with a variety of factors that together determine what plants grow where.

Session 1- 1 hr and Session 2 - 1hr

Session 1

For the class:

  • overhead transparency of "Shrub Invaders"
  • overhead transparency of "Root Races"

For each students:

  • copy of "Plant and Soil Connections Data Sheet"

Session 2

For each group of 3-4 students:

  • tray (e.g., cookie sheet, foil pan, dishpan) lined with white paper
  • trowel or large metal spoon
  • piece of rigid plastic 2" pipe, about 50 cm long (optional)
  • several hand lenses
  • rulers

See Lesson Resources below for further details.

Lesson Resources
NYS Standards
MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science
Benchmarks for Science Literacy
1B Scientific Inquiry
5D Interdependence of Life
5E Flow of Matter and Energy

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

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