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Upper School Corner - Mrs. McKenna Harkins

Thursday, 21 January, 2016 - 4:15 pm

How Does Your Soil Measure Up?

Students in Earth Science are to look towards the ground as we move through the Earth Science curriculum. Before starting our Project Based Learning in our next unit, students are wrapping up the Earth Elements Unit by studying soil. Students have learned much about the soil beneath our feet, including the three most common particles (sand, silt, and clay), various properties of soil, and the horizons contained within soil.

In an effort to once again provide students with a hands-on learning experience to complement the content they are learning, middle schoolers in the seventh and eighth grade completed a lab experiment to observe how the different sized particles are distributed within a separating solution. After analyzing various soil properties, such as texture and consistency, students needed to fill a soil and a separating soil before shaking vigorously. This motion would disperse the particles evenly so that they could separate in even layers according to their particle size.


After allowing the solution to settle undisturbed for at least 24 hours, students checked back in to analyze the various layers their soil separated into. Students pulled from earlier concepts of density when considering why the soil particles separated and layered in the structure that they did. In addition, students needed to determine the percentage of soil that was sand, silt, and clay. Once they completed the computations, students plotted their data to determine if their soil was considered a “good” mixture, or if it contained an uneven distribution of particles. It was interesting to see which soil was satisfactory and which didn’t quite make the cut!


Moving forward, the middle school science program will continue to engage students in hands-on activities to support students understanding. Now that we have laid the foundations of Earth Science by studying the building blocks of Earth, students will begin learning about various processes on Earth’s surface in their Plate Tectonics Unit. The math and science department will be sure to keep you updated as we roll out our next project in the coming weeks!

Mrs. McKenna Harkins

Upper School Science Teacher  

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