K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Why is soil so important? According to the Goddard Space Flight Center, only 10% of the Earth’s soil is able to grow crops for the world’s food supply. Daily, it becomes less and less as cities become larger and our population grows. We have compiled some of the best resources to use in teaching your students about the importance of soil and how each of us can renew the soil with composting.

Lesson plans

Soil and erosion unit: Section 1
This two week unit will involve descriptive information on North Carolina soil types and how the presence of plants affects soil erosion. Upon completion of Section 1, you may continue to Section 2. (Grades 9-12 Science)
Soil and erosion unit: Section 2
This unit will involve descriptive information on North Carolina soil types and how the presence of plants affects soil erosion. This section should be begun only after completion of Soil and erosion unit: Section 1. (Grades 9-12 Science)
In this lesson on composting, students will observe decomposition in a pile of grass clippings and in a compost heap over time. They will observe data and record it in a science log. They will also learn the difference in the terms renewable/nonrenewable, recyclable/non-recyclable, biodegradable/non-biodegradable. (Grade 5 Science)
Inquiry: You are an earthworm
This lesson for grade 6 will help students understand the cycling of matter. Students assume they are earthworms and learn by asking questions about their life processes. The lesson also introduces career possibilities in the soil science field. ( Grade 6 Science)


Composting for Kids
A slide show that teaches young students about making a compost bin, decomposition, microorganisms, macroorganisms, and uses for compost.
Microbe Zoo: Dirtland
Travel to Dirtland to see microscopic life in the soil and the role this life plays in crop growth and composting.
Underground Adventure
What does it look like to be only a half inch tall and underground? Find out in the Virtual Tour Micro Soil Lab. Try to balance life in a virtual terrarium ecosystem by choosing the right number of plant-eaters, decomposers and predators to keep the ecosystem healthy.
S.K. Worm knows Soil
Soil is an essential natural resource. Learn the basics about soil and soil conservation from this Natural Resources Conservation Service site.