The making of Dig It! the Secrets of Soil exhibit

Sep 26, 2008
Entrance to the Smithsonian’s Dig It! The Secrets of Soil. The making of the scientific and educational exhibition is the topic of a special session held on Oct. 8 at the GSA and SSSA-ASA-CSSA Joint Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas. Credit: Soil Science Society of America

At the 2008 Joint Annual Meeting in Houston, the Smithsonian's Design Team will explain details about the making of the new Dig It the Secrets of Soil exhibit that recently opened at the Natural History Museum in Washington, DC. Jennifer Bine, Pat Megonigal, and Barbara Stauffer will talk about how the designs were brought to life, the popularity of the exhibit with the public, and planning for the exhibit to travel.

The "Update on the Soils Exhibition Debut," will be held on Wednesday, 8 October from 2:30 to 3:30 pm in Room 381ABC of the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX.

Texas's state soil, "Houston Black," is featured in the new 5,000-square-foot exhibition. Texas's very own Houston Black soil is proudly displayed as one of 54 soil samples in the exhibition, representing each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia. These soils were selected for Dig It! because of their special significance to each state or region.

The Houston Black soils are characterized as vertisols with high shrink-swell with changes in soil moisture; surface is black clay; sugsoil is black clay with slickensides grading to containing calcium carbonates; substratum is light olive brown clay; form under prairie vegetation in calcareous clays and marls

Houston Black soils can be used for cropland - grain sorghum, cotton, corn, small grain, forage grasses; high shrink swell limits site development.

In the two months since the exhibit opened, an estimated 300,000 people have been though the exhibition. Visitor responses have been enthusiastic, with young children, teenagers, and adults alike commenting on how cool, weird, and interesting soils are. Later this year, the museum plans to conduct a comprehensive visitor survey to asses what visitors are learning as they go though the exhibition. The Smithsonian team hopes to reach even more people with its recent launch of the exhibit web site at forces.si.edu/soils/.

Gary A. Peterson, SSSA President said, "As a member of SSSA, you can be very proud of Dig It! as it is truly a world-class exhibition that is already attracting large numbers of visitors, many of whom are under the age of 16. The exhibition is a huge step forward in our efforts to educate youth about soils and to pique their interest in studying soils."

The next step is to take Dig It on the road. SITES, the Smithsonian Institution, Traveling exhibition service, is already preparing the exhibition for a four-year journey across North America, marketing it to a prospective large host museums and science centers. Discussions are proceeding with a several potential venues.

Source: Soil Science Society of America

Explore further: Mexico's Volcano of Fire blows huge ash cloud

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Woods, yes, but as before, no

Oct 31, 2011

Though the transformation of farm fields into forests over the past century amounts to a New England conservation victory, a Harvard forest expert said Thursday that turning back the environmental clock and ...

Insect research gives humans six legs up

Jun 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- You could say that Bert Hölldobler's career began during a childhood walk in the Bavarian woods with his father. The elder Holldobler turned over a rock out in the forest, exposing a colony ...

Avatar's New Twist on Plants

Mar 04, 2010

Although they're not nominated for an Academy Award, plants play a central role in the blockbuster movie "Avatar." A botanist provided the science behind how these unusual organisms may have evolved.

Recommended for you

Erosion may trigger earthquakes

Nov 21, 2014

Researchers from laboratories at Géosciences Rennes (CNRS/Université de Rennes 1), Géosciences Montpellier (CNRS/Université de Montpellier 2) and Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot), ...

Strong undersea earthquake hits eastern Indonesia

Nov 21, 2014

A strong undersea earthquake hit off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage and officials said it was unlikely to trigger a tsunami.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.