Soil in Schools: Leicester’s students get their hands dirty!

Soil is fundamental to our existence. The majority of our food comes from soil. It regulates the climate and is home to one quarter of all of the living things on Earth. Yet we get taught very little about soil in schools… Unless you are at one of the schools in Leicester’s Eco-Schools Roadshow!

On Friday 10th March, Miriam and Roscoe of the MYHarvest team joined up with Just Fair Trade and The Future We Want to deliver 9 fun, interactive workshops on sustainability and current environmental issues. Forty-six 5-11 year old students from 5 local schools took part in our workshops that explored the importance of soil, plant roots and the impacts of soil compaction on flooding.

One of the exciting features of the workshop was the extra-large rhizotron (see picture) that demonstrates the size and diversity of plant roots. Just one month earlier, this was planted out with rye grass (right), peas (cente) and a brassica/vetch cover crop mix (left). The roots are visibly much longer than the above ground parts of the plants, and vary dramatically between the plant species. The rye grass roots are short and straight, the pea roots have a distinctive central tap root and diagonal side roots, and the brassica (mustard) roots are the longest, already reaching out the bottom of the 1 m deep rhizotron!

 

The school children had the opportunity to create their own mini-rhizotrons in transparent plastic bottles. This is a fantastic and really simple way to observe how plant roots grow up close in a way that you normally don’t see.

Watch this space, as the MYHarvest team is returning to Leicester at the end of March to run more workshops on the second event of the Leicester Eco-Schools Roadshow tour! If you have any ideas for fun soil activities, or would like to find out more about the ones we do, get in touch via: [email protected] or Tweet us at: MYHarvestUK