top of page
Our food garden.

Ā mātou mārā kai.

Year 6 - 7 students
Big Question

How is soil a living system?

A Kakapo. A New Zealand green flightless parrot

To answer big questions scientists investigate the topic using scientific questions they can test with an experiment

Soil Food Society
Soil Food Society

A scientific question is a question that can be examined  by gathering evidence  through an experiment, measurement or observation.


To answer this big question you will have to show that soil is a living system. First you need to be clear about what is meant by 'living system'. 


Then, ask scientific questions that will help find the evidence you need to answer the big question. Good scientific questions are specific  and often start with words such as: 

  • What is in soil that... 

  • Why does...


Soil Food Society
Soil Food Society

An experiment can be part of your investigation

Examples of scientific questions:
  • What is soil  made of? 
  • Why is soil a habitat  for living creatures?
  • What does it mean if plants are growing in soil?
Soil Food Society
Finding soil life
Observe soil and collect evidence of life.
  • A small spade 
  • Two white plastic containers (two-litre ice-cream containers are perfect).
  • A magnifying glass
A slater insect on a rotting tree trunk
Follow the link in the image above to identify the soil organisms you find.
  • Fill one container half full of soil. Take a photograph of where you got the soil from.
  • Look through the soil and pick out any living insects and animals you find. Place the insects and animals in the second container. Identify the soil organisms  you have found using the resource through the website link in the image above. 
  • Record what you do. You will need to show others what you did and what you found.
Soil Food Society
Growing seedlings
Observe plants growing and collect evidence of nutrient  activity.
Soil Food Society
  • Click on the image to the right to get a printable copy of the materials and method.
Growing seedlings
  • In this experiment you will germinate  two seeds in sphagnum moss  and provide differing amounts of nutrients to the germinating seeds 
  • You will then record the differences you observe in the seedlings as they grow over a four-week period.
Soil Food Society
Soil Food Society
If you have pots and seeds left over from the New World supermarket's Little Garden you can use them for this experiment.
A three leaf seedling growing in moss
Soil Food Society
Expriment 2

Complete your scientific investigation by answering the scientific questions about the experiment you have done.

  • What is soil made of? 
  • Why is soil a habitat for living creatures?
  • What does it mean if plants are growing in soil?
If you have done a different experiment you will have to change the questions to suit the investigation.
You can choose any experiment you want that provides evidence that soil is a living system.
A Kakapo. A New Zealand green flightless parrot

Are you ready to tell the world?

How can you show others your findings from the experiment. What can you conclude  from your findings?
Scientific knowledge builds up over time as more scientists add to the evidence body  of a topic.
How will you make your findings and conclusions available so other people can watch, hear or read about them? 
Soil Food Society
Soil Food Society
bottom of page