EarthWhile Visits Schools of Future Soil Scientists

Last week, the formidable EarthWhile Team were back in the NACC NRM region and once again made time to visit several schools while they were around! NACC NRM was able to support this with funding from our Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitators. 

Their mini-tour kicked off in Leeman, where they spoke to both Leeman PS and Eneabba PS students, heading to The Leaning Tree Steiner School and then to finish off at Walkaway Primary School. The team spoke about the difference between soil and dirt. Soil is a living, breathing, entity, whereas dirt is dead. 

The trouble with soil life is that it is so small you need a microscope to see it – enter the EarthWhile team, who bring their own, and in so doing make the invisible, visible and very real! 

The creatures living in our soils are weird and wonderful.

Ellen and Bonnie describe the four key groups of microbial life in soils, from the tiniest bacteria to the fungi, then the larger protozoa and finally largest of them all, the nematodes. Seeing these organisms through the microscope and up on the screen brings everything to life.

More importantly, the team educates the students on what roles these microorganisms play in creating a healthy, living soil, and why that is so important. 

The team also likes to collect soil samples from the school. They then show the students how to prepare the soil sample correctly to make a slide that can be viewed under the microscope, and from here, they can investigate how healthy the soils are around the school.

Congratulations to Leeman Primary School – the vegie patch in the ECC was absolutely teeming with life, and all four of the organism groups were present. The kids at Leaning Tree School had compost with loads of active and very visible nematodes, and the Walkaway Primary School’s compost had a load of interesting fungi. It was great to see what’s in our very own soil! 

We are always so impressed with the questions students have, from Kindy right through to middle school. At NACC NRM, we think it is a privilege to be able to support the next generation to learn about these soil processes and why they are so important.

If this is something that your school might be interested in, please contact our Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Annabelle Garratt to register your interest.

This school tour was supported by NACC NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. 

Annabelle Garratt – Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator

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