Projects for Primary Levels

Project: Determination of backyard soil health

Suitable for: Grades/levels 5 and up

Background: We know that climate factors (such as flooding and drought) and human acitivities (such as disturbance, lack of organic fertilisers and use of pesticides and herbicices) can affect soil pH which in turn effects disease prevalence in soils. We have seen increased levels of soil pathogens making frogs sick and often killing them (and these diseases affect humans too). However, very little work has been done on soils - even for something as simple and basic as testing for pH.

Process: Students can be involved in testing the ph of their yards and answering a simple questionaire which will show whether their yard might be adding to local disease infiltration or whether it needs assistance to become healthier. They will need simple soil pH kits for 3 tests from a nursery and a shorter version of our questionaire (Soil Health section). Add the question: how many frogs have you seen in your yard in the past month? to the questionaire. At the end of the project, a comparison can be made to determine if yards with healthier soil have more frogs resident. Students will also learn that soil pH is an important factor in soil health and should be paid more attention to at home.