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Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 64: “Soil” Need Not Be a Dirty Word

April 13, 2015


Step outside after a good spring rain and inhale deeply. Smell the soil? That scent even has a name – petrichor.

I have spent the last couple of months at local schools discussing the fact that 2015 is the International Year of Soils. At the moment I mention this though – the group has almost always become silent.

I mean – even the Crickets stop chirping.

Soil, is often referred to as dirt however I tend to argue that I see dirt as man-made. When one gets “dirty” they tend to get into trouble. Dirt, is a dirty word.

Soil on the other hand is extremely clean. There are more harmful and plentiful germ issues on the bathroom door at the mall then in your gardens.

90% of our food comes from the soil – or eats things that come from the soil. The clothes we wear, the school bricks that keep us from the elements and more.

However, most folks are not aware of the fact that while soil may be fairly deep in some areas, it is typically the top 5-10 cm that is topsoil – carrying enough in the way of nutrients to sustain life. The sub soils beneath, while helping to keep deep-rooted plants like trees standing offer much less in sustenance.

Remember playing in puddles as a kid? Making mud pies? It’s such a shame that as we get older we lose this connection to our soil.

We as educators (and parents) need to stop scaring our kids away from the soil that feeds, clothes and shelters us. So this week’s challenge is what I hope will be the first of many steps in a soil inquiry project. It is to encourage our students to experience soil first hand.

The next two or three Challenges for #EnviroEd will be a continuation of this week but this being the first is about one small step for your class and one giant step into Soil Inquiry.

While I hope everyone allows their students the opportunity to play in the soil, setting the “ground” rules for learning of the ground is equally important – unless you are not the one doing or speaking to the one doing all the laundry that is.

How will you engage your students in soil inquiry and what expectations will you and the class lay down to keep both your parents at home and the custodian at school happy? Share your ideas, methods and your trial and errors.

As always, looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


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