Fig. 1.

The author of a children's book published in 2003, well before “Dig It!” opened, imagined that visiting a soil exhibit would be a wonderful example of something that makes a kid grumpy. Illustration from Lichtenheld (2003)


Fig. 2.

Floor plan of the “Dig It!” exhibit in the National Museum of Natural History.


Fig. 3.

A photorealistic mural inviting visitors to enter at the “Skin of the Earth” entrance to the “Dig It!” exhibit.


Fig. 4.

The display of monoliths from all states in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Washington, DC. The foreground shows models and interactive pieces that explain the meaning and importance of soil horizons.


Fig. 5.

Scenes from the Soil Chef cartoon. Live actors played competitors Pierre LaTerre and Sandy Marsh (top left). Shown are the three cartoon judges—Gassy Gallagher, Sylvania and Quincy Carapace—and a member of the studio audience with a special interest in soil (right-top to right-bottom, respectively). The chefs created a Spodosol (bottom left) and a Histosol (bottom middle).


Fig. 6.

The tumbler tube feature demonstrated the difference in the size of sand, silt, and clay particles, but went a step further by showing how particle size affects an important soil property—water movement.


Fig. 7.

Visitors tested their soil knowledge with a quiz game. The questions were written to emphasize global connections among soils and the role of soils in global issues such as climate change.


Fig. 8.

The exhibit featured a commissioned sculpture titled “Soil Planet,” which represented soils at the center of the Earth's major cycles of water and elements.


Fig. 9.

A model of an idealized landscape in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.


Fig. 10.

Visitors used the Greenhouse Gas Calculator to play the role of a farmer, choosing to maximize yields, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, or striving for a balance between these two goals. By touching the cell phone (bottom right), the visitor received advice from an animated soil scientist on which crops to grow, whether to till or not, and how much fertilizer to add.


Fig. 11.

A model of an idealized suburban back yard in the United States showing the personal connections visitors have with soils in their everyday lives.


Fig. 12.

Visitors watching a looping video of everyday materials and objects that are derived from soils. The image surrounding the video screen represents one such object because soils are used in the production of pigments.