An essential focus of the Soil Ecology Society’s mission is to increase students’ and the public’s awareness of soil biodiversity and ecology through education and outreach. Focused teaching efforts are vital for ensuring that future scientists, policy makers and citizens from all backgrounds understand the importance of protecting and managing soil ecosystems to support the well-being and sustainability of human societies. The SES hopes to catalyze soil biology and ecology education efforts by including teaching sessions at its biannual meetings and disseminating resources through this webpage.
Launched in March 2017, this website is a work in progress! Please check back for updates as the resource list is expanded!
If you have teaching resources that are not listed below and would like to share them with the SES community, please contact Loren Byrne.
Education Events at SES Meetings
- 2015 – Teaching Workshop in Colorado Springs, CO: “Backward design of learner-centered soil ecology teaching activities” led by Loren Byrne, Roger Williams University (materials for download)
- 2013 –“Teaching Soil Ecology” Oral Presentations Session in Camden, NJ organized by Loren Byrne, Roger Williams University (abstracts for download)
- 2011 – Education Workshop in Kelowna, BC, Canada: “How does soil ecology fit within environmental literacy & citizenship?” led by Loren Byrne, Roger Williams University (materials for download)
- 2009 – Teaching Workshop in Burlington, VT: “Learner-centered Soil Ecology Education,” led by Rachel Thiet, Antioch University, New England and Loren Byrne, Roger Williams University (Slides for download)
- 2007 – First Soil Ecology Education Workshop in Moab, UT, led by Rachel Thiet of Antioch University, New England
Readings for Students Suggested by SES Members
- Bardgett, R. 2016. Earth Matters: How soil underlies civilization.
- Baskin, Y. 2006. Underground: How Creatures of Mud and Dirt Shape Our World.
- Coleman, D.C, D. A. Crossley Jr. and P.F. Hendrix. 2004. Fundamentals of Soil Ecology, 2nd Ed.
- National Geographic article “Our Good Earth”
- Ohlson, K. 2014. The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet
- Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas
Articles & Lesson Plans
- Bruns, M.A, and L. Byrne. 2004. Scale model of a soil aggregate and associated organisms: A teaching tool for soil ecology. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Science Education 33: 85-91. View pdf
- Hoyt, Catherine, Matthew Wallenstein. 2011. Soil Respiration and Student Inquiry: A Perfect Match. Science Activities 48: 119-128.
- Mamo, M. et al. 2011. Avatars Go to Class: A Virtual Environment Soil Science Activity. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Science Education 40: 114-121.
- Moebius-Clune, B., et al. 2011. Moving Authentic Soil Research into High School Classrooms: Student Engagement and Learning. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Science Education 40: 102-113.
- Magee, Paula A., Elisha Wingate. 2014. Using Inquiry to Learn about Soil: A Fourth Grade Experience. Science Activities 51: 89-100.
- Phillips, Marianne, Julie Vowell. 2013. Soil, Seeds, and the Pumpkin Patch! Science Activities: 50: 54-61.a
- Stoeber, Rodelyn, Fernand Saurette, Daniele Dubois-Jacques, Deny Gravel. 2010. The use of the microcomposter to study the dynamics of a mini-ecosystem. Science Activities 47: 15-21.
For Further Reading
- Amador, J. A., and J. H. Görres. 2004. A Problem-Based Learning approach to teaching introductory soil science. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education 33:21-27.
- Andrews, S. E., S.D. Frey. 2015. Studio Structure Improves Student Performance in an Undergraduate Introductory Soil Science Course. Natural Sciences Education 44: 60-68.
- Byrne. L.B. 2016. Overcoming Challenges of the Soil Education Gap: Part 1 and Part 2. Posted on Beneath Our Feet: The Blog of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative.
- Byrne, L.B., R.K. Thiet, V.B. Chaudhary. 2016. Pedagogy for the Pedosphere. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14: 238-240. pdf
- Byrne, L.B. 2013. An in-class role-playing activity to foster discussion and deeper understanding of biodiversity and ecological webs. (uses soil organisms as an example) EcoEd Digital Library. pdf
- Johnson, E.A. and K.M. Catley. 2009. Urban soil ecology as a focal point for environmental education. Urban Ecosystems 12: 79-93.
- USDA–NRCS website for soil education, including slides of 10 key messages
- Soils 4 Teachers resources from the Soil Science Society of America
- Environmental Literacy Council’s soil
- Discovery Channel’s The Dirt on Soil
- General website for elementary-level soil resources
- U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Just for Kids soils website with Wilbur the Soil Wizard:
- Dr. Dirt’s K-12 soil teaching materials
- Dig IT! The Secrets of Soil exhibit
Teaching Materials (videos, lesson plans)
- I●MOLD project (the interactive model of leaf decomposition)
- Lesson plan for a one-session Soil Ecology Lab by Becky Ball, Arizona State University
- Soil fauna playing cards
- Collection of soil biology videos from T. Loynachan at Iowa State University
- Great Lakes Worm Watch earthworm identification
- Decomposition lesson from Becky Ball: lesson plan and video playlist