This is my second semester teaching Sucio, an earth science course based on soil. This class is mainly about experimental design with a focus on the complexities of soil. Throughout the semester students work in groups to design, setup, and collect data about their experiments. Recently, students have finished the first experiment. In the first experiment, students were testing three different soils and determining what purposes (growing plants, home for organisms, building material, and moisture absorbency) each soil would be best at. Currently, we are learning about the ways that humans negatively impact soil. Some examples of this are: monoculture, pesticides, and deforestation. In this unit students will design experiments that will test their hypotheses around the ways that humans damage soil. We will finish out the year learning about ways that humans help soil.

I am interested in building personal authenticity for my students this semester and question how I can help students build deeper connections between themselves and their work within their communities. It would seem as if that would be an easy task because we need soil for the basic everyday necessities such as food and clothing. But as New Yorkers we are fairly removed from soil, and most do not interact with it on a daily basis or understand the power that it holds in keeping us healthy.

Based on all of this, my problem of practice is: How can my students identify and act on soil related (or adjacent) issues in their communities?