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  • In this activity, students learn to read and interpret aspects of soil moisture maps and compare data by location and over time.

    This activity complements the activity Investigating soil moisture content. It also supports the nature of science achievement aims Communicating in science and the science capability Interpret representations.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • use scientific vocabulary
    • find the field capacity of a soil sample
    • identify the elements of soil moisture maps
    • discuss the purpose of soil moisture maps
    • read/interpret maps to compare data by region
    • read/interpret maps to compare data over time.

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • introduction/background notes
    • what you need
    • what to do
    • extension ideas
    • student handout.

    Nature of Science

    Scientists often use maps to represent data. The National Institute of Weather and Atmospheric Research collects soil moisture data from around New Zealand and displays it in map form. Visual representations – like maps – can be easier to read than tables of numbers.

    Activity ideas

    What makes up soil? uses an interactive or paper-based graphic organizer to explore student thinking about soil. This is a good pre/post student activity. Use it in combination with the teacher resource Alternative conceptions about soil.

    Investigating soil moisture content is good to combine with this activity and supports the science capability 'Engage with science'. Students can record and share their data on a soil moisture database.

    Related content

    Explore some of the important science ideas and concepts around soil with these articles:

    Useful link

    NASA's Eyes on the Earth site shows the positions of their Earth observation satellites. Use the tabs at the bottom of the page to filter for soil moisture, greenhouse gases and other measurements.

      Published 6 April 2016 Referencing Hub articles
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