Down and Dirty & Rain Garden to the Rescue

by Marilyn Roca Enriquez in

Down and Dirty

CP Project hispanic outlook-12 jobs

Grade: 6 | Time: (2) 45-60 minute periods


Students will investigate the structure and characteristics of soils in the schoolyard and in the garden based on texture, composition, nutrients, and fertility. 

Essential Questions 
What kind of soils are in our garden or schoolyard? How can different soils be characterized? What can we do to improve soils for gardening? 

Students will experiment with various soils to discover that different soils have different properties depending on their composition. 

Students will identify soil types using a feel test, conduct a permeability test, make their own soil profiles, and test soils using a soil test kit. 

Students should characterize soils in the schoolyard and argue from evidence to defend their conclusions about texture, composition, nutrients, and fertility. Students should determine what amendments should be made to the soil in order to grow a specific plant or crop. 

Environmental Stewardship 
Students will implement a soil-conserving or amendment practice in the school garden, according to soil test results.   

A rubric is provided for assessing student performance expectations. Discussion questions are also provided. 

Students may create a compost heap to divert food waste from the landfill and contribute to soil fertility.     


Georgia Performance Standards in Science S6E6. b, S6E5.h,i,j 
Next Generation Science Standards 
ESS3.A, ESS3.C, MS-ESS3-1, MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4 
Supplies in kit: 
Soil donuts/mud pies 
16 clear non-plastic cups per class 

Bring your own: 
soil samples from very sandy to heavy clay  source of water (tap, spigot or spray bottles) trowels and zip top bags for soil collection gloves (optional/ 1 pr per student) 
hand washing facilities  

Teabag citizen science 
per group (8 groups of 4 students) 1 unused pyramid-shaped teabag 

Bring your own (for each group)  
Timer (can be found on most cell phones) Rulers (to measure 8 cm planting depth) Trowel, spoon, stick or digging tool 

Soil texture  
per group (8 groups of 4 students) 
samples of three local soils (1 set per group) 
OR three artificial “soils” made of pebbles, sand, clay 
Permeability of soil 
1 rubber band per student 
1 soil test kit (N-P-K-pH) per group of 4 students

Bring your own: 
2 uniform size water containers per group of 4 2 small pieces of cloth per group of 4 
1 timer or cell phone per group of 4  

Garden Connection: 
Students will collect and characterize soils from the schoolyard and the garden; test soils; and amend accordingly. Students will also implement a soil conserving practice in the school garden and/or create a compost heap. 

STEM Connection: 
Students will design and build a composting system and analyze the resulting soil. 

Rain Garden to the Rescue

Grade: 6 | Time: 4-5, 60 minute periods


Students will measure the impervious area on campus, including the school building and paved surfaces, in order to calculate the size of a rain garden large enough to filter the “first flush” of runoff from a rainstorm; then observe the flow of runoff on school property and determine locations where a rain garden should be located in order to filter water before it enters ditches, creeks or storm drains; design a rain garden, and install it. 

Essential Questions 
How can I design and build a rain garden that will filter contaminants and pollutants from run-off water on school grounds? 

Students will watch a video and read an article regarding ocean pollution and make the connection that, regardless of where one lives, contaminants and pollutants washed away by run-off water end up in waterways and eventually in oceans. 

Students will calculate the area needed to capture and clean the ‘First Flush’, (the first ¾”-1” of rain after a dry spell) when the majority of pollutants are flushed from a hard surface such as a roof, driveway, parking lot or sidewalk. 

Students will explain and defend their selection of location, size and design of the rain garden using evidence from tests of soil compaction, studies of water flow direction during rainstorms (or topo maps), location of nearest storm drain, ditch or creek, and research on suitability of plants selected. 

Environmental Stewardship 
Students will install a rain garden on school grounds. 

A rubric is provided to assess student performance expectations. Questions for discussion are also provided. 

Students may design rain gardens for other local community buildings. 


Georgia Performance Standards in Science S6E5.j 
Next Generation Science Standards ESS3.A, ESS3.C, ESS2.C, MS-ESS3-1, 
MS-ESS3-3, MS-ESS3-4, MS-ESS2-4 

Supplies  Per class:

4 Garden spades  
4 Measuring wheels (1,000 ft) 
Bring Your Own: 
BYO: plants or seeds for rain garden BYO: computers/internet for student research 

Garden Connection: 
Students will design and install a rain garden to filter contaminants from run-off water. 

STEM Connection: 

Students will use technology such as a measuring wheel and calculator to compute various formulas, including the square footage of impervious surfaces, rainwater harvesting formulas, and the permeable area needed to harvest rainwater.  Students will also design and install a rain garden. 

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