Publications & Research


School Gardens: Soil Science

Document Type


Publication Date



school gardens, soil science, environmental science, agriculture

Grade Level



School gardens can provide both much needed social emotional benefits as well as an opportunity for students to see science in action. The ability to see a plant grown from seed to maturation allows students to apply a practical understanding to that which is so often only read about and observed through illustrations. The inquiry based nature of this outdoor lab promotes students to question “why”. Why did this plant grow faster, stronger, better than another. Why did this one grow quickly, but then not produce a flower or fruit? Why didn’t this plant grow at all? Why doesn’t the ground soak up all the rain? Why is the dirt that color?

This article features a middle school lesson plan and activity focused on the science of soil including the importance texture, permeability, and bulk density. It would highlight the importance of the structure and nutrients in soil necessary to successfully grow food and the viability of different potential plants. Focused on inquiry-based teaching and learning, the article highlights the content and pedagogical approach to integrate advanced STEM concepts by engaging students with real world problems/opportunities.