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Exploring Plant and Soil Connection

Unit Plan: Cycles: From Rot to RadishesLesson: 4 Time: Session 1 (1 hr) and Session 2 (1 hr) Setting: Classroom
3-5, 6-8Schoolyard Ecology
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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.


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

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 for further details.

Lesson Files

Exploring Plant and Soil Connections

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

1B Scientific Inquiry, 5D Interdependence of Life, 5E Flow of Matter and Energy

NYS Standards

MST 4- Physical setting, living environment and nature of science
Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems, Planning and carrying out investigations, Engaging in argument from evidence

Hogan, Kathleen. Eco-Inquiry: A Guide to Ecological Learning Experiences for the Upper Elementary/Middle Grades. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, PO Box 1840, 4050 Westmark Drive, Dubuque, IA 52004-1840., 1994.