The question is “How stinky would that be?”

Launie Shaw teaches third grade at Chestnut Ridge Elementary. She attended an OOGEEP teacher workshop in June and received classroom supplies and lesson plans to use with her students. Here’s how she’s incorporated some of them:

After a guest speaker taught about soil types and their benefits and attributes, Shaw read a story about geologic time and soil creation. Students were instructed to draw what they thought each stage might look like. “The idea was for the student to hear how long it takes to create soil and understand that any parts or minerals deposited in the soil came from somewhere or some sort of creature,” said Shaw. 

The next day, students did an activity to learn how mineral-rich soil is formed and how long the process takes. One column was created only with regular soil, while the other had soil with a compost mixture and pond water added to it. Biogenesis is taking place in the second tube: microscopic organisms are feeding on the decomposing organic material. Under the earth, in high temperature and high pressure situations, hydrocarbons such as crude oil and wet gas are formed in source rocks such as shale and limestone. The test tubes are sitting in the classroom, and although created several weeks ago, Shaw said “students still come by and gaze at the rotting column of soil and discuss things like what's going on in there, and how stinky would that be if I opened this?”

Shaw said these activities have really gotten the students thinking about and curious about what’s under the ground that they’re walking on and the many minerals and hydrocarbons that provide energy for heat and light. You can find these lesson plans on the OOGEEP curriculum site.