reconnecting with soils

soil-selfies-at-aaee-2016Tomorrow Making; our present to the future,  is the Australian Association of Environmental Education 2016 National Conference.  The Reconnecting with Soil – Snooping into Soils workshop fell under the theme of ‘Reconnecting with nature’.

My preliminary quesion related to the theme : Why should we ‘reconnect’ with soils? This proved a challenging question.  With so much of the urban environments that we live in, having soil hidden under bitumen and concrete, how can children be aware of soil under their feet? It was exciting to see some of the teachers’  opinions on this question. They show the values of soils, they could impart to their students:

  • essential for life
  • healthy soils = healthy plants/ food
  • soil is our ground – connection to our earth.
  • Soil is the basis for everything eg food, buildings

The workshop went off fantastically with teachers fully involved in doing the activities, firstly the Soil Selfies photos, then moving on to the Snooping into Soils ones.  Notes for the reconnecting-with-soil-aaee-2016-workshop-4g  are here.

There were great reasons given for the open-ended questions ‘Which box is the Odd One Out’?  and ‘   What is hidden in soil?’

Just like youngsters, the participants were amazed at seeing new things in soil under a magnifying glass, how soil reacts when a single drop of water hits it, and the different reactions and compositions in a range of Soil Shakes using soils collected mainly on the way here.

All reported that they had learnt lots or had a completely new way of looking at soils.   I enjoyed sharing my activities with them, providing new ways to engage school children as a contribution to the International Decade of Soils.

Participants replying to survey
Nearly all were teachers/ educators, including a couple of early childhood educators, and nearly all were from South Australia

My aims for this Snooping into Soils workshop were to demonstrate simple and cheap ways to include soils in any environmental education program by providing participants with  :
1 a foundation of basic soil observations
and 2 inspiration to include some soils learning – at all levels of F-Y6 Curriculum – based in AC Science, especially using our senses to carefully observe detail.


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