Montana State University

MSU online class helps educators use dirt to engage kids in science

February 22, 2010

A kit of materials--including dirt--accompanies an online soil science course from Montana State University. Photo courtesy MSU Extended University.    High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
A six-week online graduate course, "The Dirt on Soil Science," will help teachers engage kids in science through a substance with universal appeal: dirt.

The Montana State University Online course begins March 23 and runs until May 16, offering one graduate credit. It is designed for K-6 teachers and informal youth educators, such as outreach professionals at science museums, children's museums and zoos.

Participants will learn the basics of soil science and how to use hands-on activities as a gateway to discuss larger environmental issues such as water quality and natural resources. The course offers techniques that are immediately transferrable to the classroom. Participating teachers will receive a kit filled with activities, materials and -- of course -- dirt.

The instructor is Suzanna Carrithers, hydrological science technician for the USGS-Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center. Prior to joining USGS, she spent seven years with the MSU Extension Water Quality Program.

"The Dirt on Soil Science" is offered completely online. Students do not need to enroll in an MSU degree program in order to take the course.

The course is offered through Extended University's National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN). For prerequisites and information about the course or to register, visit and click on current courses in the yellow bar. The class is listed as LRES 580.

Lisa Brown, MSU Extended University, (406) 994-6550,