Decomposition of organic material in the soil that is crucial for the growth and metabolism of plants and microorganisms, is the focal point of this research project. Plants take up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) during photosynthesis. Organisms such as fungi, bacteria mites and earthworms living in the soil decompose the dead plant material  and release  carbon dioxide (CO2) back into the atmosphere. This is why it is of such great importance to achieve a better understanding of the role of microorganism in the decomposition process, which is the objective of the TeaTime4Schools project.

TeaTime4Schools is funded by Sparkling Science, a research programme of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy. The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), Open Science – Life Sciences in Dialogue and the HBLA for Viticulture and Pomology Klosterneuburg will cooperate and run the joint project from the beginning of September 2017 to the end of August 2019.

Call to all schools: register now and explore soil with teabags.

Schools can take part in this project and help to explore the decomposition processes of plant material in the soil. Students will bury tea bags under different land uses (Grassland, Maize field, Forest) near the school and record the GPS data of the location as part of the project. The tea bags will be recovered three months later, dried, weighed and the results recorded on a map together with the GPS data, enabling scientists to compare the global data gathered. The schools will also send a soil sample to AGES to be analysed for soil characteristics. This makes it possible to analyse the effects of the land use and  the soil characteristics  on the decomposition rate. Teachers will get an introduction to the method prior to the start of the experiment, as well as an information package with background material. The final  results of all school classes – spread across Austria – will be presented at the final workshop  of the project that will be organised at AGES.

  • Target group: students aged 10+
  • Project duration: 2 years (September 2017 to August 2019)
  • School activities: April/May/June 2018 (introductory workshop, burying of teabags), Sept 2018 (recovery of teabags, taking a soil sample, evaluation of data), March 2019 (final event)

Details & Registration: Are you interested in taking part in this project with your class? If so, please fill out the following online form: online form



The teabag index method

Measuringsoil biological activity with tea bags

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