Activity Introduction

cc-secondary2-heroQuick summary: During this lesson students investigate the role of topsoil and the importance of topsoil to food production and biodiversity. They begin exploring the role and importance of topsoil by observing a demonstration that uses an apple to visually demonstrate the parts of the Earth. Students will work in groups to test the quality of topsoil around their school. They then analyse the class data and work in groups to create a map of topsoil quality at their school and to make suggestions for improving topsoil quality.

This lesson is designed to be taught outside. It contains all the tools required for students to reap the benefits of being outdoors while learning the outcomes of the Australian Curriculum. By spending time outdoors and connecting to nature, students are more likely to care for and conserve nature as adults.

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Learning goals:

  • Students understand what topsoil is and why it is important to humans and our environment.
  • Students identify the quality of topsoil at their school and recognise actions that can be taken to improve the quality of topsoil.
  • Students recognise the mental, physical and academic benefits of completing classroom activities outside.

21st century skills:

sampling areas skills cc

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 8 Geography

  • Different types of landscapes and their distinctive landform features (ACHGK048)
  • Human causes and effects of landscape degradation (ACHGK051)
  • Evaluate sources for their reliability and usefulness and select, collect and record relevant geographical data and information, using ethical protocols, from appropriate primary and secondary sources (ACHGS056)
  • Present findings, arguments and ideas in a range of communication forms selected to suit a particular audience and purpose; using geographical terminology and digital technologies as appropriate (ACHGS061)
  • Reflect on their learning to propose individual and collective action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge, taking account of environmental, economic and social considerations, and predict the expected outcomes of their proposal (ACHGS062)

Syllabus outcomes: GE4-1, GE4-2, GE4-3, GE4-7, GE4-8.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 8 Geography achievement standards: Students explain interconnections within environments and between people and places and explain how they change places and environments. They select, record and represent data and the location and distribution of geographical phenomena in a range of appropriate digital and non-digital forms, including maps at different scales that conform to cartographic conventions. They propose action in response to a geographical challenge, taking account of environmental, economic and social factors, and predict the outcomes of their proposal.

Topic: Outdoor Learning, Biodiversity.

Unit of work: Outdoor Learning Unit.

Time required: 100-130 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee activity and facilitate discussion.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Earth as an apple – demonstration instructions and apple, knife and chopping board. Map of school projected onto board. Each group will also need:

  • one printed A4 sized map of school for each group
  • one copy of Topsoil Testing Record Sheet
  • one spade/shovel for each group
  • one tape measure
  • pen/pencil

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Keywords: Topsoil, soil, schoolyard, testing, outdoor learning.

Cool Australia would like to thank the Albert George & Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust – managed by Equity Trustees.

Youngman Trust Logo

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

digging-photoframeTeacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand what topsoil is and why it is important to humans and our environment. They will participate in a soil test activity to identify the quality of topsoil at their school. Using the data they collect they will be able to make suggestions about the actions that can be taken to improve the quality of topsoil. Finally, students will be able to recognise the mental, physical and academic benefits of completing classroom activities outside.

Outdoor learning information:

Outdoor Learning Series (https://vimeo.com/171030135)

Factsheets:

To help guide teachers through suggested activities in this lesson, we have developed a series of icons designed to show what types of activities are involved and where these activities may take place (see Learning Activity Key be

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Where does your food come from?

Earth as an apple demonstration

Working independently or in pairs, reflect on what you saw and thought during this demonstration using the following questions:

What did you see in the demonstration?

What did it make you think about?

What did it make you wonder about?

What questions does it leave you with?

Analysis of class's data

Where the topsoil the thinnest?

What might be some of the reasons why there is little topsoil here?

Where is it the thickest?

What might be some of the reasons why there is more topsoil here?

What evidence of organic matter did you see in the topsoil?

What other things might have affected the quality of the topsoil (rocks, sand etc)?

How did the quality and/or depth of topsoil affect what was growing there? What evidence did you find to support your answer?

How can you tell if topsoil is healthy or not? What evidence did you find to support your answer?

Reflection

Think about what you looked a

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