Digging Into Soil

The Conservation Station team is partnering up with twenty-four Iowa libraries for this year’s youth summer reading programming. The 2013 program theme is “Dig into Reading” and the Conservation Station has a new set of activities devoted to learning about soil. Visitors travel through three different stations to learn about soil formation, how to protect such a valuable natural resource, and even get a chance to make some edible soil to take with them.

Station #1: Soil Caldron

This station provides the opportunity to learn about the different parts that make up a healthy soil by following the soil recipe. Kids add parent material, nutrients, bacteria, water, earthworms and other living organisms, organic material and sunlight to the caldron and mix well. When we look into the caldron we see that soil hasn’t formed yet because the most important ingredient was left out – TIME! It takes between 500-1,000 to form just one inch of soil.
Learning about the different ingredients that make up soil at the Algona Public Library on June 11, 2013.

Learning about the different ingredients that make up soil at the Algona Public Library on June 11, 2013.

Adding nutrients to the mix at the Sumner Public Library on June 5, 2013.

Adding nutrients to the mix at the Sumner Public Library on June 5, 2013.

Station #2: Rainfall Simulator

At the rainfall simulator, visitors can see how different land covers help protect soil and keep it from polluting our waters. Featured are trays simulating intense tillage, no till, perennial vegetation, cover crops and impermeable urban services.

Looking at all the soil ending up in the water from the intense tillage tray at the Newhall Public Library on June 10, 2013.

Looking at all the soil ending up in the water from the intense tillage tray at the Newhall Public Library on June 10, 2013.

Making it rain at the Madrid Public Library on June 12, 2013

Making it rain at the Madrid Public Library on June 12, 2013.

Station #3: Edible Soil

The final station allows kids to make soil that they can enjoy immediately instead of waiting 500-1,000 years. Edible soil combines chocolate covered candies, chocolate pudding, crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, colored sprinkles, gummy worms and yellow sprinkles into a delicious snack that ties together everything they learned at the first two stations. Check back soon for the edible soil recipe and directions.

Creating some delicious edible soil at the Algona Public Library on  June 11, 2013.

Creating some delicious edible soil at the Algona Public Library on June 11, 2013.

Adding different layers of ingredients for the edible soil at the Sumner Public Library on June 5, 2013.

Building edible soil at the Sumner Public Library on June 5, 2013.

Where we’re headed next:

June 26: Keosauqua Public Library
June 26: Burt Public Library
June 27: Lake City Public Library
July 1: Dubuque Co. Public Library
July 3: Readlyn Public Library
July 9: Hospers Public Library
July 11: Riceville Public Library
July 12: Eldon Public Library
July 19: Storm Lake Public Library
July 29: LeMars Public Library

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