Determining Soil pH
For Grades 5-8
Areas of Study:
Mathematics Earth Sciences Chemistry
Correlated to National Science Education Content Standards
The ideas and activities included in this Lesson Plan are intended for use in classrooms where an appreciation for a better understanding of the environmental and earth sciences is the focus of the core curriculum. It is not intended to be a substitute for a comprehensive environmental and earth sciences curriculum, but rather, complement the learning experiences of children in the recommended targeted grades indicated.
Forestry Suppliers provides this information to qualified educators as a template, or guideline, for creating an interesting and enjoyable learning experience for the intended targeted age group. Please note the alignment with National Science Education and Math Standards where applicable.
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5-8 Content Standards Covered
|A||Science as inquiry
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Understanding about scientific inquiry
Properties and changes of properties in matter
|E||Science and Technology
Abilities of technological design
Understandings about science and technology
|F||Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Science and technology in society
|G||History and Nature of Science
Science as a human endeavor
At an early age our taste buds indicate to us whether something we eat is sour or bitter. These characteristics of a food can be described as acidic or basic and are due to the chemical nature of a substance.
Some acids are rather weak and some are very strong. For example, small amounts of weak acids are found in our mouths and stomachs. These acidic solutions serve to help break down and digest the food we consume every day. A weak base is one of the major components found in dishwashing liquid and bath soap. Acids and bases are important in industry. Industrially, one of the most important acids is sulfuric acid. It is used in petroleum refining, steel processing and fertilizer production. Phosphoric and nitric acid are used in fertilizer production, too.
It is important to understand the role of the acidic or basic nature of the soils in which food crops and plants are grown. Some plants prefer acidic soils whereas others grow best in basic soil. The acidic or basic nature of the soil can even affect the color of the leaves and flowers as well as the overall health of the plant.
How do scientists or even farmers know whether the soil in which they plant seeds or young plants is basic or acidic? They can use special test paper strips or a meter to measure what is called the pH of the soil. Scientists devised a pH scale which determines whether a substance is an acid or a base. This pH scale is a numerical scale or a number line. The numbers on the scale range from 0 - 14, allowing 7 to be the mid-point. Any substance which has a pH value of less than 7 is considered an acid, and a pH value greater than 7 is a base. This leaves a pH of exactly 7 being neutral.
How are pH values determined? Simple. One can use a special pH paper (called Hydrion pH Paper or pH test paper) which, when placed in a solution, turns a specific color depending upon the pH value of the substance. The color of the test strip is matched to a color chart, which gives the pH value. A pH tester can also be used to measure the pH of soil, water, or other substances. A pH tester is an instrument that has a probe, which is inserted into a soil or liquid sample and gives a readout concerning the pH of the substance tested. Knowing the pH of the soil can help a farmer know what soil type is best in which to grow particular plants, vegetables, or flowers.
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Required Materials and Optional Items
The following items are required to complete all the activities in this lesson plan. All items are available from Forestry Suppliers, Inc.
|Required Materials||Stock Number||Optional Items||Stock Number|
|Soil Sample Bags (100 pk)||79147||Soil Texture Kit||77330|
|pH Paper||78105||pH Meter||76237|
|Soil Samples from multiple sites||*|
|One Gallon Distilled Water||*|
*Furnished by teacher or students
Forestry Suppliers Soil Analysis F.I.E.L.D. Kit
Fundamental Investigation of the Environment Leading to Discovery
If interested in soil analysis for classroom activities, consider our Forestry Suppliers Soil Analysis F.I.E.L.D. Kit. Use the kit for this and many more related activities. See Further Studies section for a few ideas.
The Forestry Suppliers Soil Analysis F.I.E.L.D. Kit is available exclusively from Forestry Suppliers and includes some of the items used in this lesson plan, as well as additional Lesson Plans, which will involve the use of other items. All kit items may also be purchased individually. Call our Sales Department at 1-800-647-5368 or visit us on the web at www.forestry-suppliers.com.
Forestry Suppliers Soil Analysis F.I.E.L.D. Kit Contents
Stock Number 36845
Kit items may be purchased inividually.
Required For This Lesson Plan
|1||Soil Color Chart||77365|
|1||Soil Texture Kit||77330|
|1||Keck Sand Shaker||53691|
|1||Soil N-P-K Kit||77960|
|1||Soil Sample Tube||76924|
|1||Hydrion pH Papers||78105|
Correlated standards reprinted with permission from National Science Education Standards. Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences.
Courtesy of the National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., www.nap.edu
©2001 Forestry Suppliers, Inc. All rights reserved.