Soil and Biometeorology Teaching Lab

From UBC Wiki

The APBI Teaching Lab is located in room 102A at the H.R. MacMillan Building and is home to several courses offered by the Applied Biology Program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia. In 1967, the H.R. MacMillan building opened as home to the Faculties of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry as well as the H.R. MacMillan Library. Since then, at least 11,000 students have passed through the MCML 102A Lab from Faculties of Land and Food Systems, Forestry, Science (Physical Geography, Botany, Earth and Ocean Science), and Applied Science. In 2018, the MCML 102A lab underwent a full-scale renovation that ensured a safe and inspiring lab space for approximately 450 undergraduate and graduate students per year from a wide variety of programs, including: Applied Biology, Soil Sciences, Global Resource Systems, Forestry, Physical Geography, and Atmospheric Sciences, that at present time use this lab.

Lab Courses

Applied Biology Teaching Lab Pre-Renovation

The APBI Teaching Lab currently hosts lab component of the following courses:

It is also home to many other events and activities associated with the Applied Biology Program in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

Applied Biology Lab Post-Renovation

Lab Features and Capacity

The APBI Teaching Lab can accommodate a maximum of 30 students and contains 6 movable lab tables that can comfortably accommodate 10 - 12 students, bench space around the west and south perimeter of the room, 4 sinks, 1 fume hood, and a projector with speakers.

Equipment and Tools

The APBI Teaching Lab is also home to equipment such as distillation system, pH meters, EC meter, water baths, ovens, incubators, muffle furnaces, spectrophotometer, centrifuge, vacuum pumps, heat and stir plates, microscopes, TDR moisture sensors, carbon dioxide sensors, soil sieves, balances, penetrometer, soil augers, soil grinders, soil push probes, bulk density samplers, proctor soil compaction kit, UMS Hyprop, hydrometers, Munsell Colour Books, shovels, trowels, buckets, radiometer, psychrometers, Edumeters etc. Some items can be loaned out or booked temporarily by contacting the APBI Teaching Lab Technician at Additional resources such as the use of elemental analyzer (EA), and inductively coupled plasma - optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES), Fourier-transformed infrared spectrometer (FTIR), -80°C freezers, and freeze-dryers can also be arranged through the APBI Teaching Lab Technician.

The APBI Teaching Lab uses an online inventory system (called Quartzy) to keep track of chemicals, supplies and other resources available. Users can sign up for an account on to gain access to the database and check whether specific chemicals/supplies are available, then further inquire whether they can be provided by the APBI Teaching Lab. We strongly encourage the sharing of chemicals/supplies/resources to reduce hazardous and non-environmentally friendly waste production and lowering the cost of analysis. Furthermore, users can use the order module in the database to request reagent/supply ordering, or select items in the inventory to re-order, as long as a valid speed chart is provided. Some of instruments and equipment can be reserved, please fill out this survey to borrow equipment. If you cannot find some equipment, contact the APBI Technician or consult the FNH Teaching Lab.

Safety Training

Safety is of utmost importance in a laboratory environment and it is no different in the APBI Teaching Lab. Each user who will work independently in the APBI Teaching Lab will be required to take:

  1. UBC Mandatory training offered by UBC Safety and Risk Services
  2. Chemical Safety training offered by UBC Safety and Risk Services
  3. A Site Specific training for the APBI Teaching lab

Standard Operating Procedures

The standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been posted near the instrument for guidance but training to use each instrument is available and can be scheduled with the APBI Teaching Lab Technician at Some of the experimental procedures, sample calculations, statistical analysis or equipment SOPs have been prepared as demonstrations in videos. Students and researchers are highly encouraged to review the use of instruments and experimental protocols using these demonstrative videos and documents:

Lab Equipment

Field Equipment

Sampling Basics

Soil Physical Properties

Soil Chemical Properties

Soil Biological Properties

Teaching Resources

We have many different teaching tools, resources, and samples that can be used for soil demonstrations or interdisciplinary work.

Online Resources

In-lab Resources

  • Soil Structure Samples - samples of soils with different structure.
  • Parent Material Samples - samples of different parent material types.
  • Soil Texture Samples - samples of different soil texture types.
  • Soil Monoliths - virtual and physical soil monoliths representing soils from many soil orders from Canada.
  • Rock and Mineral Collection - samples of different rock and mineral types.

Soil Science Outreach Kits and Information

We are pleased to offer several soil science outreach kits, that could be used in K-12 settings or various outreach events for the general public. For more information and additional lesson plans please visit the Soil 4 Youth website.

  • Protecting Our Soil - This kit provides a demonstration on how different levels of soil cover can prevent soil erosion (suitable for all ages).
  • What is Soil Texture? - This kit provides 5 different soil types of a varying textures and a guided flowchart that will help you determine soil texture just like it is done in the field (suitable for all ages).
  • Soil Order Quiz Cards - A trivia game that tests your knowledge of 10 Canadian soil orders (suitable for those familiar with soil classification).
  • Mini Monoliths - This kit allows students to learn about how soil horizons (within the profile) are formed; highlighting that in the upper horizons there is more organic matter compared to the lower horizons (suitable for all ages).:
  • Insect Collection and Life Cycles - This kit will feature several different insect life cycles, showing how some species start their lives in the soil and change dramatically over time (suitable for all ages).
  • Local Plant Identification Guide - This kit can be used as a general guide to identifying plants by learning to recognize certain characteristics about inflorescence, leaves and bark.
  • Soil Game - Horizons From a Hat - This game can be played to aid students in familiarizing themselves with the various major soil horizon layers and their associated suffixes described by the Canadian soil horizon classification system.

If you have any ideas that you think would make for a great outreach kit, or don't see one that fits your needs, please contact