In this Activity, students collect soil samples and characterize them by examining their physical appearance, water holding capacity, sedimentation, and pH. Based on their observations, they can see that different samples of something as universal as soil can be quite different from each other. This environmental chemistry Activity can be used to complement a celebration of Earth Day. The Activity provides practice in making detailed observations about a real world substance students probably think little about, and ties in well with environmental chemistry concepts and discussions of how soil type impacts the plants it sustains.
Linda N. Fanis and Erica K. Jacobsen, J. Chem. Educ. 2006, 83, p240A.