Soil Resources

Soil Education from the Natural Resources Conservation Service: Basic soil info, state soils info, lesson plans and resources for teachers and students, and much more. A very good and very thorough resource. Lesson plans for grades K-6 can be found here. Dig It! The Secrets of Soils: An excellent soil exhibit/website from the Smithsonian. Soil […]

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Soil Glossary

Archaea Bacteria Biodiversity Biofilm Biomass Colony Compost Culture Domain Duff Eucarya Inorganic Kingdom Loam Microbe Organic Petri dish pH Phylogenetic Prokaryote Protista Soil Soil Profile & Soil Horizons Soil Types Taxonomy Weathering

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Extension Activities

There are many opportunities to extend and expand the activities listed in this module. Several examples are listed below. Extension 1 Soil Profile/Soil Card Lesson from NRCS: This simple lesson plan shows how to make soil cards from soil profiles. Extension 2 The Dirt on Soil from Discovery Education: Take a virtual microscopic safari through […]

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Wrapping Petri Dishes in Parafilm

Parafilm is a flexible film, available in several different lengths and widths. It is commonly used for sealing or protecting containers, like our Petri dishes. It will help to ensure that our samples do not become contaminated by outside substances. First, don’t get frustrated if the parafilm rips, and realize that this is a technique […]

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Isolating a Colony from a Soil Sample

Picking a Site For this example, we chose two sites, just south of the Chemistry & Biology Building at Montana Tech. We named them according to preconceptions as to what would grow there (possibly not good scientific practice!). Let’s call the first site our BAD soil sample site, a dry site with some fine gravel […]

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Creating a Soil Profile

This page describe the field protocol for characterizing soil sites and profiles. Video demonstrations follow. For your reference, you may want to download the complete text field protocol, available via the links below: Field Protocol for Characterizing Soil Sites and Profiles (pdf) Field Protocol for Characterizing Soil Sites and Profiles (doc) In order to understand […]

Colonizing & Culturing Microbes

In this module, we will culture microbe colonies from our soil samples in order to determine what is living in our soil. In biology, a colony refers to several individual organisms of the same species living closely together, usually for mutual benefit. A bacterial colony (or colony of other microorganisms) is a cluster of organisms […]

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Microbes & Biofilms

Microbes, although single-celled organisms, can form complex communities, sense other cells, and communicate with their own kind. They usually live as groups of similar organisms in biofilms. How do we visualize the microbial world? Using microscopes, of course! A great website to explore for yourselves (and to show your students mold growing on bread at […]

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What is a Microbe?

Microbes are those organisms that are microscopic and include some of the eukayotes (protist, fungi, algae, and microscopic invertebrates) and all prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea). Viruses are also included in the microbes, but we are not going to cover these fascinating entities in this module. For more information on viruses, you can visit the Wikipedia […]

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Most archaeans don’t look that different from bacteria under the microscope. The extreme conditions under which most species of archaea live has made them difficult to culture, so their unique place among living organisms long went unrecognized. However, biochemically and genetically, they are as different from bacteria as you are. They are not Bacteria, they […]

The MSP project is funded by an ESEA, Title II Part B Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant through the Montana Office of Public Instruction. MSP was developed by the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and faculty from Montana Tech of The University of Montana and Montana State University, with support from other Montana University System Faculty.