Super Soil

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this outdoor activity, learners make their own organic-rich soil. Depending on where this activity is done, learners will probably discover that their local soil is low in organic matter. Then they will determine how much organic matter (compost, manure, or leaf mold) they must add to the local soil to match the organic content of a commercial soil mix. Background information discusses soil as a mixture of water, air, minerals, organic matter and living organisms, and explains more about organic matter in soil and its necessity in agriculture and gardening. The "Branching Out" section encourages learners to followup by planting seeds or seedlings of easy edible plants such as peas, beans, lettuce and Swiss chard.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 2 hours

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • clear plastic vials about 1" in diameter and 2" high
  • digging tools (spoons or trowels)
  • cups of commercial garden mix
  • cups of organic material (manure, compost, peat moss, leaf mold)
  • waterproof pen
  • alum powder
  • paper towels
  • 4 liters of water or a water source
  • extra vials
  • vegetable seedlings or seeds (optional)
  • half-gallon milk cartons (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Viruses and Bacteria
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Gardening
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • be mobile
  • smell
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1979