Dig It! The Secrets of Soil

We are excited to present Dig It! The Secrets of Soil for the Cal State Long Beach campus community, finally bringing our graduate students' ideas to life.

Below our feet lies a thin layer of soil- a complex and varying mixture of minerals, living organisms, and much more! Get your hands dirty and explore the mysteries of soil at Dig It! The Secrets of Soils on exhibit now at the Science Learning Center at Cal State Long Beach.

The exhibit explores the complex and varying mixtures of minerals, air, water, decaying remains, and living organisms we call soil! Visitors will get their hands dirty, as they investigate what makes soil, soil.

person inspecting a worm found in soil

Special Feature: Vermicomposting

Be a Soil Supporter (PDF)

Visitors can observe an active vermicompost bin at the exhibit.

Composting happens when leaves and dead plant life fall to the group and slowly decay. This natural process creates a dark layer called humus, full of important minerals and nutrients that enrich soil.

We can speed up this process by creating our own composting systems, recycling food scraps and even newspaper to form humus, which can then be used to add nutrients to soil in your garden and potted plants.

Vermicomposting speeds up the composting process using earthworms (typically red wigglers or Eisenia fetida). These animals eat their weight in organic matter each day, producing castings (worm poop!) that are rich in nutrients. Like other compost, vermicompost can be added to soil and imporive its ability to support growing plants.

Vermicomposting Resources


How to Visit the Exhibit

Cal State Long Beach students, staff, and faculty are invited to come to the Science Learning Center. Dig It! The Secrets of Soil will be open on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from 11:00am to 1:00pm. Campus community members interested in the exhibit, but unable to make those times can contact us to arrange another time to visit.

The exhibit will last through June.

Guests from off-campus who are interested in the exhibit can contact us for more information.

The Science Learning Center is located in the Hall of Science (HSCI) in room 110 (near the Biological Sciences Department office).

We follow all COVID-related heath guidelines. More information is available at: COVID-19 Information - CSULB.


Classroom Activities

The following classroom activity lesson plans were created by the Science Learning Center for Dig It! The Secrets of Soil exhibit. We make these available for any teacher to adapt for use in their classrooms.


History

This iteration of Dig It! The Secrets of Soil began back in Spring 2020-—the year that everything changed. This 'DIY' exhibition was created by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History with the intent of allowing smaller venues to adapt and present the science content to different audiences. The exhibit assets (as electronic files) were free to use—-the only costs would be those incurred when printing the panels, fliers, etc.

In Spring 2020, the planning and adaptation of The Secrets of Soil exhibition was an intergral part of the SCED graduate course Advanced Practices in Informal Science Education. Students were required to identify what they believed should be the 'big idea' for the mini-exhibition, select appropriate content panels from those provided by the Smithsonian, develop hands-on activities that would support science learning related to the messages of the exhibition, and provide ideas for promoting the exhibition.

The exhibit would be prepared for public display in Fall 2020. Of course, these plans were disrupted by the appearance of COVID-19. Although much of the planning was completed, the exhibition was never produced, until now.


Acknowledgements

Thanks to all who made this exhibit possible:

  • SCED 590 Advanced Practices in Informal Science Education (Special Topics in Science Education) graduate students:
    Alyssa Bjorkquist, Heather Calabrese, Mayumi Ezoe
  • Science Learning Center work study students and volunteers:
    including Lesley Avina, Jonathan Broberg, Teodora Custodio
  • Science Learning Center Coordinators:
    Valerie Bain, Rick O'Connor
  • Science Advisors
    Dr. Lora Stevens, Dr. Christine Whitcraft
  • Department of Science Education
  • College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Copy and Print Services, Forty-Niner Shops, Inc.