Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Sweet World of Soil Microbiology

05.05.2008
Using classroom, hands-on activities can help instructors to communicate difficult scientific concepts and stimulate student thinking.

Despite its importance, the diversity in soil microbes can conceptually be difficult to teach, especially in natural resource classrooms composed primarily of undergraduates who have had little exposure to microbiology. That's where the candy comes into play.

Stephanie Yarwood and Elizabeth Sulzman (now deceased), Oregon State University, report on the sweet world of soil microbial diversity in the 2008 Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education.

This article describes two activities that introduce students to soil microbial diversity and show strategies that soil microbiologists use to better understand life within the soil. With a minimal investment of time and resources, an instructor can use familiar items to introduce abstract ideas.

In one activity, an opaque bag filled with various types of candy is used to represent a soil microbial community. This bag includes candies of several different shapes and sizes, each representing a unique soil microorganism. The physical appearance of the candy is a substitute for the phenotypic and genetic diversity that microbiologists would find in a soil microbial community.

Small student groups work to organize the candy. They base their characterizations on the physical appearance of candy pieces as a proxy for microbial diversity. At this point students decide what characteristics of the candy should be used to define groups. Students are asked to think about the various ways that microorganisms can be defined (for example, by the way they look or function).

"In-class activities can be helpful to demonstrate the complexity and importance of the soil microbial world. These activities are a fun, creative way to engage students and to teach them about an important aspect of soil microbiology." says Dr. Yarwood.

After participating in these activities, students’ assessment scores increased by 35%, and final exam results showed that a high percentage of students retained the major concepts demonstrated.

The full article is available for 30 days from the date of this summary as free access available here. After 30 days it will be available at the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education website, http://www.jnrlse.org. http://www.jnrlse.org/issues/ (Click on 2008, Volume 37, "View Article List," scroll down to article abstract).

Today's educators are looking to the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, http://www.jnrlse.org for the latest teaching techniques in the life sciences, natural resources, and agriculture. The journal is continuously updated online during the year and one hard copy is published in December by the American Society of Agronomy.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, and founded in 1936, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. For more information, visit www.soils.org.

SSSA is the founding sponsor of an approximately 5,000-square foot exhibition, Dig It! The Secrets of Soil, opening July 19, 2008 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Sara Procknow Uttech | newswise
Further information:
http://www.soils.org

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Combination of Resistance Genes Offers Better Protection for Wheat against Powdery Mildew
22.01.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New study shows producers where and how to grow cellulosic biofuel crops
17.01.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>