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Get down and dirty!

Full Day
Book Program
Year Levels


Soil forms a thin mantle over the Earth’s surface and is the interface between the atmosphere and the lithosphere, the outermost shell of the Earth. Soil consists of minerals, living plant roots, water, gases, and decaying organic matter. It provides a medium in which a huge variety of organisms live and grow. Gardeners need to understand the properties of the soil they have in their gardens in order to grow plants successfully. At times gardeners may need to amend their soil by adding other materials.

Soil formation occurs upon exposure of rock to a new environment. This may include the uplift of sediments, recession of water or the retreat of a glacier. Soils form from rocks and sediments by the combined influence of water, air, heat (and cold), microorganisms, plants, animals and time, via ‘weathering’. Physical weathering includes the breaking up of rocks by ice and extreme heat, blasting by wind-driven sand, rasping by glaciers and grinding by water-borne sand and rocks. Chemical weathering requires water and oxygen. Weathering is hastened by the appearance of plants such as lichens, mosses and liverworts, which excrete acids, which slowly dissolve the rock material.

The Ecolinc Geological Trail consists of twelve boulders from the local environment, placed in order of age from the Ordovician to the Quaternary periods.


In this program students will:

  • Explore the Ecolinc geological trail and measure a number of soil properties including colour, dispersion, texture, pH, electrical conductivity and nutrient status.


Student groups will explore the Geological Trail, measure a range of soil properties, complete a range of chemical tests on soil extracts and investigate a selection of garden soils.

  • Ecolinc workbooks, pencils, magnifying lenses, chemicals and soil testing equipment will be provided.


  • Examine a number of boulders on the Geological Trail, with particular reference to weathering and soil formation.
  • Measure a range of soil properties including pH, EC, soil colour and soil structure.
  • Investigate garden soils by completing a range of tests including field pH, texture and water holding capacity.


  • Students will interpret their results by completing the worksheets provided.
  • Results obtained will be discussed with applications of soil chemistry discussed.