Airfield Estate inviting children to become soil scientists

by Gazette Reporter
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Airfield Estate, the urban farm and gardens in Dublin, is opening an activity zone as part of its new visitor experience, ‘World of Soil’. This fun and educational experience consists of a series of interconnecting geodomes that transport you to an underground world.

Visitors young and old to learn how soil is made, the life it supports and why it is vital to our food supply. Did you know that it takes 400 years to make 1cm of soil? Or that there are more living organisms in a tablespoon of soil than there are people living on earth?*

It can’t truly be a ‘World of Soil’ without the opportunity to get your hands dirty! Airfield Estate has partnered with Science Foundation  Ireland to create an activity zone hosting hands-on activities to further inspire the public to appreciate soil. Children and their families can step into the shoes of soil scientists by conducting experiments to assess soil texture and determine soil type. Activities include:

  • Getting close to worms in the wormery and examining them in the soil, providing an opportunity to discover the anatomy of these creatures and seeing the vital work they do as the architects of the soil.
  • The essential role of soil in food production is driven home through seed sowing activities, where learners discover the various components of healthy soil that plants need to grow.
  • The impact of human activities such as farming on soil health is highlighted through a display of historic farm machinery, enabling comparison of older versus modern farming methods and the effect these practices have on the soil.
  • Visitors can express their creative side through painting with soil, where the various naturally occurring earth pigments can be used to create unique works of art.
  • Citizen science projects will help people to become soil scientists at home. Young scientists and curious adults can get involved in conducting two different soil science experiments at home: ‘Count your earthworms’ and ‘Soil your pants for soil health’, which use earthworms and the rate of breakdown of cotton as simple indicators of soil health. The results of the citizen scientist projects will then be analysed by researchers at Airfield Estate to start building a basic picture of the health of soils across Ireland.

Airfield Estate will also host Soil Scientist Weekends, where researchers from the world of soil science will hold weekend talks and workshops. These talks will cover topics such as soil biodiversity, soil use, water quality, and soil carbon storage. The soil scientist weekends aim to educate people about the magic of soil science in an engaging and accessible way, and to give soil scientists a platform to tell the public about the valuable soil research that is going on in Ireland.

The attraction is designed to leave visitors inspired as Dr Kirstie McAdoo, Director of Education & Research at Airfield Estate explains; “We are thrilled to add the activity zone to our World of Soil experience. Soil does not get the attention it deserves. It helps create about 95% of our food, is critical for helping us fight climate change and contains about a quarter of all the biodiversity on the planet. World of Soil is our way of helping visitors to appreciate soil by getting their hands dirty! The protection and promotion of soil is critical to how we farm and garden at Airfield Estate.”

Dr Alison Boyle, Programme Manager, Education & Public Engagement, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “SFI is delighted to support the ‘World of Soil’ activity zone, exploring the past, present and future of how humans and soil are interlinked. This exciting new visitor experience will allow people of all ages to dig deep beneath the surface of something that, while ever present in our daily lives, we know surprisingly little about.” 

Entry to ‘World of Soil’ at Airfield Estate is included in the price of a daily pass or annual membership. Visit to book online and for further information.

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