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Make and Support Predictions about Soil

Students will conduct research to learn about the characteristics of soil. Then they will make predictions to identify plants that they think will or will not grow in your area. Finally, students will use what they learned to support their predictions.

PROCESS:

  1. Write the following question on the board: What is soil? Invite students to share what they know. Then guide the class to understand that soil is a mixture of pieces of rock, living and once living things, water and air. It is a natural resource that holds the water and nutrients that many plants-and ultimately animals-need to live and grow.
  2. Point out that there are many different types of soil. Each type of soil has different characteristics. Those characteristics affect what plants can grow in the soil in certain places. For example, sandy soils in the desert do a poor job of holding water. That's perfect for cactuses, but most other plants would die in this soil.
  3. As a class, in small groups or with a partner, invite students to conduct research to learn more about the characteristics of soil.
  4. Have students identify plants that they think would and would not grow well in the soil found in your area. Using what they learned about the characteristics of soil, challenge students to give one or more valid reasons to support each prediction.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to share their predictions with the class. Encourage classmates to evaluate each piece of evidence to determine whether or not it supports students' ideas about what will and will not grow in your area. If you like, encourage students to grow some of the plants they identified to test their predictions in the field.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
Investigate the characteristics of soil and complete the activity as a class. Instruct students to identify two plants that they think will grow well in your area and two that won't. Challenge them to give one valid reason to support each prediction.

Grades 5-6:
Investigate the characteristics of soil as a class. Then have students complete the activity in small groups. Instruct each group to identify three plants that they think will grow well in your area and three that won't. Challenge them to give one or more valid reasons to support each prediction.

Grades 7-8:
Have students investigate the characteristics of soil and complete the activity in small groups. Instruct each group to identify four plants that they think will grow well in your area and four that won't. Challenge them to give two valid reasons to support each prediction.

Grades 9-10:
Have students investigate the characteristics of soil and complete the activity with a partner. Instruct each pair to identify five plants that they think will grow well in your area and five that won't. Challenge them to give at least two or more valid reasons to support each prediction.