Soil Analysis Lesson Plan


1. To provide students with practice calculating density.
2. To provide students with examples of the physical characteristics of soil.

Student Objectives:

1. Students will be able to list three physical characteristics of soil.
2. Students will be able to determine the density of soil samples.
3. Students will be able to conclude who committed a crime based on the evidence and laboratory investigations.


1. Four soil samples:

· one with plant debris
· one with animal debris
· one with salt (NaCl)
· one with baking soda

2. Lecture handouts
3. Lab handouts
4. Homework handouts
5. Scale
6. Graduated Cylinder
7. Light Microscopes
8. Yellow Crime Scene Tape
9. Density-Gradient Tube

Anticipatory Set:

1. Journal entry or warm-up question: "What materials could you find mixed with soil in the environment and at a crime scene?"
2. Set up crime scene - "Someone broke into the school building last night and raided the student lockers. The only evidence found was a shoe print and some dirt in the hallway. The building principal wants answers, and I told him/her that you have proven to be effective crime scene investigators and would be willing to assist.
3. Collect evidence.


1. Complete anticipatory set as described above. Make sure the journal/warm up question is posted before students enter the room. (Day 1)
2. Hand out lecture notes and lecture. (Day 1)
3. Hand out lab notes. (Day 2)
4. Explain lab to students. Have students complete the lab according to the directions. (Day 2)
5. Hand out homework assignment.


1. Day One: Using a "Koosh" or other type of ball, everyone must name one new thing they learned from the lecture.
2. Day Two: On a piece of paper, students will list three "contaminate" items they could find in a soil sample.


1. Learning support or lower ability students may be provided with lecture notes that have fewer blank spaces to fill in.
2. Gifted students may be provided with lecture notes that have many blacks or they may have to take notes on their own.
3. The lab does not need to be adapted because the cooperative groups are mixed ability.

Reinforcement Activity:

1. Students will conduct a lab that will reinforce the lecture information.
2. Students will have a homework assignment that uses information obtained from the lab.

Student Evaluation:

1. Students will be evaluated by their lab handout and homework.
2. Students will be evaluated by the final unit project.

Lesson Evaluation:

1. Students will be expected to receive an 80% or higher on their lab and homework.
2. The lesson will also be evaluated at the end of the unit. Students will be expected to receive an 80% or higher on the final lab report.