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Investigating Soils


Grades: Secondary and university. The first two questions may be used in upper elementary.

There are many resources on soils available at the Education site for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Examine the soil under your feet in the maze. Describe the texture, color, grains, and other characteristics. Use the "Texture by Feel" diagram to classify it. How has cultivation affected the surface and composition of the soil? Interview the landowners, if possible.

Examine soil data for the region around the maze using the USDA's Web Soil Survey. What soil type(s) underlie your corn maze? What is the official "state soil" for your state? What soil type(s) are best for growing corn? How do the soil types that are best for growing corn compare to the soils that are best for other crops? What fertilizers and pesticides are used on cornfields? Why? What are the inherent dangers in fertilizers and pesticides?

Take a soil sample if possible to your school and conduct soil tests using a commercial kit. Perform a similar text on soil collected at your school. Report on the results of your soil tests.

Report on the results of your soil test.

Use corn mazes as portals to investigate the Earth!