Enhancing Earth Science Education Through an Improved Soils Laboratory

Grant Details


The project is strengthening the soils curriculum with a hands-on, field-laboratory approach centered around the acquisition of microwave ovens and tumblers for conducting weathering and erosion experiments, soil field laboratories, moisture meters, laser levelers, with an atomic absorption unit. The course most benefiting from the project is Soils and Land use. Enrollments average between 2O and 25 per semester with approximately half of these students enrolled in the teacher education program. Revised units of the course feature: 1) weathering and erosion experiments in the laboratory using the microwave oven and tumbler; 2) more accurate soil nutrient inventories in various field settings using portable soil testing laboratories that include spectrophotometers; 3) time efficient field mapping of erosive slopes using laser leveling techniques; and 4) exposure to the sampling and measurement of soil metal pollution through atomic absorption spectroscopy. For each unit students form hypotheses, test their validity, and describe the results of the soil processes being investigated. The equipment also benefits 2O-25 pre-service teachers per semester in the Earth Science for Teachers class. These students need a better field and laboratory background regarding soils and the opportunity to use such experiences in building their own lesson plans. Pre-service teachers submit a major soils lesson plan involving an equipment or a field demonstration to the grade level they expect to teach. The project also benefits other courses such as Landforms, Biogeography, Independent Studies, in-service teacher workshops, and a team taught interdisciplinary science course for middle school students.

Effective start/end date08/15/9407/31/97


  • National Science Foundation: $30,355.00


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