Sep 09-Nov 29, 2019
Credit: 3 graduate
Instructor(s): Suzanna Soileau

Course Description

Registration begins on March 25th - please register for CRN 24634.
Playing with DIRT! At your age? Believe it or not, soil (to some known as "dirt") is part of all of our lives on a daily basis. And, as environmental issues such as water quality, waste management, ecological biodiversity, land resource carrying capacity, and alternative land uses continue to gain more attention from the public, increasing demands will be placed on earth science, physical science, geology, geography, and general science teachers for curriculum to support our understanding of these issues. Soil science is not a new science, but one that has gained much attention and interest in the past decade. And, the study of soil science has taken on new, "real-life" meaning and significance in the last decade. Today scientists spend a great deal of time studying the soil-like materials of distant planets, the remote reaches of the earth, and even under the ocean floors.

The goal of this course is to introduce teachers to the basic principles of soil science as an integral part of the curriculum for environmental sciences, ecology, earth science, geology, water quality, and geography. The course is structured around twelve basic soil concepts, beginning with the significance of soil in our everyday lives and progressing through soil formation, the physical and chemical properties of soils, and the role soil and the earth play in environmental management today and in the future. This course is filled with "how to" classroom teaching opportunities and resources. A good share of the course addresses contemporary issues and readings. We'll integrate teaching DIRT with math, language arts, geography, social studies, artistic expression, chemistry, physics, and biology.

You'll learn about the soil in your own school yard or back yard, who to contact to get local "experts" and how to get your students more interested in environmental studies. This course is "hands on", participation oriented.

What goes on in the DIRTY DOZEN?

  • Study the significance of soil and the processes involved in soil formation and differentiation (did you know that all soils have names and identities and more than 14,000 different "soils" are recognized in the United States alone?).
  • Learn how to use such readily available resources as National Geographic, Science, and other popular magazines to introduce students to soil science and develop lessons that are fun in the classroom.
  • Develop better understanding of the relationship between soil and water quality, crop and vegetation management, and environmental science.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers login to the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week spending 9 - 12 hours each week while the course is in session, either online or offline, working on course related assignments, to stay current and successfully complete this 3 credit graduate course.


Suzanna Soileau, ME.
Suzanna spent seven years as the Education Coordinator and Water Quality Research Associate for the Montana State University Extension Water Quality Program. She is currently an Outreach Physical Scientist with the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center in Bozeman, Montana. The primary focus of her work is in relaying technical scientific information in a manner that enables non-science audiences to gain sound, science-based knowledge, as well as develop and deliver online water quality and soil science courses for teachers and professional practitioners. Suzanna received her bachelor's degree in Earth Sciences at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and her master's degree in Education at MSU.


One year of experience teaching science at the secondary level and completion of a science education methods course.

Time Commitment:

9-12 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Online Only Tuition and Fee table below:

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

NTEN will ship you all necessary materials. When you pay your tuition and fees, you will pay a $45 charge for the materials.

Required Books/Materials

  • Kohnke, Helmut and Franzmeier, D.P., Soil Science Simplified. 1995. Waveland Press, Prospect Heights, Ill. Fourth Edition
  • Coliscan Easygel supplies
  • One ziplock bag of soil

These and other necessary course materials will be supplied in your course materials kit that will be sent to you by Montana State University shortly before the course begins.

If you live abroad, please notify us of your foreign address so that materials can be sent to you directly. Kelly Boyce at

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

Contact Suzanna Soileau at for questions regarding course content, or Kelly Boyce at for questions about registration policies.

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.