Publication No. 11053
Discover Life in the Soil
Student Laboratory Kit
Materials Included In Kit
Isopropyl alcohol, (CH3)2CHOH, 70% rubbing alcohol, 100 mL
Additional Materials Required
(for each lab group)
Bleach solution (for disinfecting work surfaces)
Graduated cylinder, 10-mL
Lamp, 25–40 W bulb (optional, may be shared)
Spoon or trowel
Tape, masking or label
Isopropyl alcohol is a moderate fire risk as it is a flammable liquid. It is also slightly toxic by ingestion and inhalation. Soil may contain eye, respiratory or skin irritants. Do not handle soil with bare hands. Wear chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant gloves and a chemical-resistant apron during each part of the activity. Remind students to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before leaving the laboratory. Please review current Safety Data Sheets for additional safety, handling and disposal information.
Please consult your current Flinn Scientific Catalog/Reference Manual for general guidelines and specific procedures, and review all federal, state and local regulations that may apply, before proceeding. Contents of the Petri dishes may be disposed of according to Flinn Suggested Disposal Method #26b. The soil in the sealed plastic bags may be disposed of according to Flinn Suggested Disposal Method #26a. Petri dishes, funnels, insect screening, and work surfaces should be treated with a 10% bleach solution according to Flinn Suggested Biological Disposal Method #1B.
Alignment with AP® Environmental Science Topics and Scoring Components
Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)†
Science & Engineering PracticesAsking questions and defining problems
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions
Engaging in argument from evidence
Disciplinary Core IdeasMS-LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
MS-LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
HS-LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
HS-LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Structure and function
MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
Answers to Prelab Questions
Answers to Questions
Soil Biology, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service [Online] http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/concepts/soil_biology/sbinfo.html (accessed October 2010)
Discover Life in the Soil
Hundreds of species of organisms may be living right under your feet! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a single spade-full of rich, garden soil contains more species of organisms than can be found above ground in the entire Amazon rain forest. Discover what types of organisms are living in the local soil.
Ecosystems include all the living organisms in a certain area and the environmental factors or conditions that impact them. The greater the variety of organisms found in a particular ecosystem, the greater the biodiversity. The upper layer of soil containing decaying plant matter is known as humus. The humus layer comprises an ecosystem that supports various forms of animal life, particularly invertebrates. Many of the invertebrates found in humus are arthropods. The name comes from the Greek words arthro—joint and poda—feet. Arthropods have jointed appendages, an exoskeleton and segmented bodies. Soil arthropods are often considered microarthropods with a body size of only 0.1–5.0 mm.
The purpose of this experiment is to extract microarthropods from a local soil sample using a Berlese–Tullgren apparatus. Extracted organisms will be documented and counted and a comparison of the biodiversity among different soil samples will be made.
Rubbing alcohol, (CH3)2CHOH, 70% isopropyl, 8 mL
Isopropyl alcohol is a moderate fire risk as it is a flammable liquid. It is also slightly toxic by ingestion and inhalation. Soil may contain eye, respiratory or skin irritants. Do not handle soil with bare hands. Exercise caution when using a lamp as the bulb may be hot. Wear chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant gloves and a chemical-resistant apron during each part of the activity. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before leaving the laboratory. Please follow all laboratory safety guidelines.
Part A. Obtaining a Soil Sample
Part B. Extraction with a Berlese–Tullgren Apparatus
Part C. Examining Organisms
Student Worksheet PDF