Save the Soil, Protect the Plants

A Science WebQuest for 3rd Graders

Designed by

Jennifer Giggey
jgiggey@wcpss.net

 

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits  


Introduction

          Detective Sandy Silt invites you to become a Soil Sleuth.  Show what you know about soil by solving several soil mysteries. Use what you have learned during your recent soil explorations, class discussions, and the clues you discover while you search on the Internet. Sandy will fill you in on all the details.  Once you have completed your investigation, you will have the clues needed to solve the mysteries.  You will then become an undercover agent.  You will pose as a scientist.  Your goal is to determine if a soil sample will support plant growth effectively.  You will accomplish this by interviewing a soil sample.  Your final duty will require you to report back to the SOSPP (Save Our Soil Protect the Plants) Committee.  The committee will consider your suggestions, and then implement a plan.  GOOD LUCK!!

After completing these activities you should be able to:

a)     Tell which types of soil support plant growth most efficiently.

b)     Describe the relationship between soil and plant life.

c)     Explain the important activity going on below the soil’s surface.

d)     Identify the components of soil.

e)     Determine how to change soil composition to improve plant life’s ability to survive.

f)       Use scientific vocabulary.

g)     Evaluate which characteristics of soil are conducive to plant growth and which do not promote plant growth.

   

 



The Task

                                               You have 3 tasks to complete.

Task 1:  Solve the Soil Sleuth Mystery

Detective Sandy Silt will send you to The Great Plant Escape website.  Your mission is to identify which kinds of soil support plant growth.  You will solve the mysteries by listing the soil characteristics that promote and prevent plant growth. 

 

      Task 2:  Be an Undercover Agent

 

Create a soil sample.  Write a detailed description based on the soil’s color, texture, porosity, density, plasticity, and any other properties that you have discovered while you were completing Task 1.  The sample you create may or may not be able support plant growth.  You are a secret agent who is pretending to be a scientist.  The scientist’s job is to interview the soil sample to determine the characteristics of the soil.  You will reveal the properties of your soil sample by the dialogue that you write.  You will ask specific questions, and the soil sample will respond.

 

    

       Task 3:  Create a Power Point Report

 

Report to the SOSPP Committee by creating a Power Point presentation that reports the information that has been collected from the interview with the soil sample.  Make recommendations on how to improve the quality of the soil.

 

  



The Process

 

     The steps that you should follow to accomplish your tasks are listed.  You may be completing all three of the tasks independently or you may be working in a small group.  If you are working in a group, your group should determine the jobs each member will have. You are now ready to take on your roles.  Have fun and learn a lot!

 

                                                                        Steps

1.      Take notes on the Tree Branch Thinking Map.  Go to the Great Plant Escape websites where Detective Sandy Silt will assign you 6 cases to solve.  You will be working closely with Sandy’s partner Detective LePlant.  Click on to the websites listed below:

http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/gpe/case2/index.html.

http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/gpe/case/c2brief.html

 

2.      You have used your notes to successfully solve the soil mysteries.  You are now ready to go undercover as a scientist.  Create a soil sample.  Describe its properties in detail.  The soil sample that you have created may be good for growing plants, but then again, it may not.  Use what you have learned by doing the experiments in class, the information from class discussions, and the data that you have gathered while solving the soil mysteries to perform this task.

 

3.      You will write down any questions that will help you, as a scientist, to determine if the soil sample that you have created, has the appropriate characteristics to promote quality plant growth.

 

4.      You will use your soil description to answer the questions that you posed in Step 3.

 

5.  You are still a scientist.  You have become best friends with the soil sample that you have created.  You will conduct an interview with the soil sample.  Write or type the questions in Step 3, and the answers to the questions in Step 4 by designating who is speaking. 

                             Example:   Scientist:  What do you look?

                                                  Soil:  I am orange and powdery.

6. You now have all the information that you need to meet with the SOSPP (Save Our Soil Protect the Plants) Committee.  It is your responsibility to convince the committee to either improve or maintain the soil sample’s ability to grow plants.  You will create a Power Point presentation that contains these elements:

A)    A description of your soil sample

B)    A statement that tells whether you think the soil sample is good or poor for supporting plant growth and why you feel that way

C)    Recommendations for improving or maintaining the soil sample and the reasons for your suggestions.

D)    You will lead a discussion to try to convince the committee to implement your plan.

                                         

GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS:  Soil Characteristics (Tree Branch Thinking Map)

QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED:

1)     What soil characteristics are conducive to plant growth?

2)     What soil characteristics do not support plant growth?

3)     What are the components that make up soil?

4)     What is soil?

5)     How can you determine the quality of a soil sample?

6)     What can you do to improve the quality of a soil sample?

7)     Why did you include this information in your projects?

 



Evaluation

The rubric shows how your performance will be evaluated.  Group work and individual grading will be similar, but groups must tell me what jobs each member performed.

 

 

 

Beginning

1

Developing

2

Accomplished

3

Exemplary

4

Score

 

Solving the soil mysteries

 

Completion of the Soil Characteristics organizer

 

The organizer has at least 3 properties listed that are conducive to plant growth and 3 properties that do not promote plant growth.

The organizer has at least 3 properties listed that are conducive to plant growth and 3 properties that do not promote plant growth which discuss soil texture, density, plasticity, and porosity.

The organizer has listed the properties that discuss soil texture, density, plasticity, porosity and chemical make up.

 

 

 

 

The organizer has listed properties discussing soil texture, density, plasticity, porosity, and chemical make up which includes personal insights and explanations.

 

 

Create a Soil Sample

 

Describes what the soil looks like and what it has in it.

Description includes at least 4 of the following:  what the soil looks like, what is in it, texture, porosity, plasticity, density.

 

Description includes what the soil looks like, what is in it, texture, porosity, density and plasticity

Description includes what the soil looks like, what is in it, texture, porosity, density, plasticity, and chemical make up.

 

 

Soil Sample Interview

 

The interview is written in a way so that the reader can identify which character is speaking and the questions and answers discuss what the soil sample looks like and what is in it.

The interview is written in a way so that the reader can identify which character is speaking, and the questions and answers discuss the 4 properties described in the “Create a Soil Sample” activity for Level 2

The interview is written in a way so that the reader can identify which character is speaking, and the questions and answers discuss the properties listed in the “Create a Soil Sample” activity for Level 3

The interview is written in a way so that the reader can identify which character is speaking, and the questions and answers discuss the properties listed in the “Create a Soil Sample” activity for Level4

 

Power Point Presentation

Recommendations for the SOSPP Committee

Includes suggestions and explanations for why the recommendations have been made, but the reasoning may not be supported by the soil description

The suggestions and explanations for why the recommendations have been made are supported by the soil description.

Includes a detailed description of the soil sample.  The recommendations and explanations are supported by the description.

Includes a detailed description of the soil sample. Reasoning is provided to justify if the soil quality is good or poor.   The recommendations and explanations are supported by the description.

 



Conclusion

 

            I hope that you have enjoyed becoming a soil expert.  How does the study of soil and plant growth relate to the patterns and systems in the world around you?  Why are these patterns and systems important? 

 

            The links listed below are great sites if you are interested in learning more about this topic.

 

                       http://www.enchantedlearning.com/geology/soil/

                      

                       http://www.raw-connectioons.com/garden/

 

 

 

 


   
                                   
Credits  

 

      *Special thanks to Chris Balsamo and Jennifer Brown, the dedicated technology teachers at Morrisville Year Round Elementary.  There would not be this Webquest without their assistance and encouragement.

 


Last updated on August 15, 1999. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page