Students Learn How the Soil is Connected to the Atmosphere


There is a well-known expression, “As Above, so below,” which is mostly associated with secular texts as the ideology that what we do as an individual effects society on a whole; however, we can also think of the aphorism as the relationship between the Earth’s atmosphere and the soil.

The soil plays an important role in the carbon cycle because it helps to store and regulate carbon in the atmosphere. Garden Educator Jacqui Roytman is preparing her students for their spring gardening, and in doing so, she wants them to understand the soil’s role.

In two of IS364’s science classes, Roytman has been teaching the students how to observe, chart, and understand the various life-cycles that exist in the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC). Roytman discussed the parts of the plant and how they take in carbon during photosynthesis. During this process, the plants store the carbon as carbohydrates which is then sent to its roots, and then turns to food for the organisms living in the soil (such as worms and other insects). When the plants and these organisms die, the carbon is re-emitted back into the atmosphere. This becomes a cycle.

“The carbon that is released into the atmosphere impacts the climate because the more carbon the warmer the temperature,” Roytman said. The carbon that exists in the air transforms into carbon dioxide because it combines with oxygen. This creates Greenhouse Gases, which is a term that means that the energy is being re-emitted into the water and land, causing the temperature to become warmer. There should be a balance between the amount of carbon released and stored, however, with the increased use of fossil fuel and other ways carbon dioxide is being emitted, the balance is skewed.

Roytman asked the class to draw a chart to show the carbon cycle in relation to the soil, atmosphere, and ocean. She hopes that this lesson help students understand the topics environmentalists are conferring about today, as well as the importance of plants and soil in regards to the earth’s atmosphere.

Photos by Amanda Moses