Secrets in the Soil

The "Secrets in the Soil" program consists of investigations into what soil is and how it plays a role in Earth systems. Below are some sample resources we have developed for this topic. If you would like to borrow mineral samples for your classroom, check out our Loaner Kits.

They are all free for you to use thanks to the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Appalachian State University. If you have questions about any of these resources, field trip opportunities, classroom visits or to request activities for different topics, please our Outreach Coordinator at


  • 1st Grade Soil Test Activity- In this lab activity, students analyze rock samples by observing how it separates into layers of clay, silt and sand. 
  • "Trip Down the Soil Layers" slides- This presentation starts with a picture of a soil profile and takes students all the way from the humus to the bedrock, just a simple photo of each layer. 
  • K-2 McKinney Museum student handout- Example of the type of handout a visiting K-2 class would get when they arrive at the McKinney Museum. Materials are adapted for each group depending on interest, length of visit, etc. 
  • Soils of the Southeastern US- the chapter on soils from The Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Earth Science of the SoutheasternUS (published by the Paleontological Research Institution)

Standard Alignment:

NCSES 1.E.2 Understand the physical properties of Earth materials that make them useful in different ways.

  • 1.E.2.1 Summarize the physical properties of earth materials, including rocks, minerals, soils and water that make them useful in different ways

  •  1.E.2.2 Compare the properties of soil samples from different places relating their capacity to retain water, nourish and support the growth of certain plants. 



K-2 erosion activity set-up.