U.S. maps are commonplace in elementary-school classrooms, but Troy Saulsbury, a fourth-grade teacher at Central Elementary School in Kearney, Neb., has one that truly may be one-of-a-kind. Every state on the map has at least one little capsule filled with dirt from a landmark in that state, though some samples are rocks, or in the case of Vermont, maple syrup. The soil samples come from places as diverse as Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Miss., and the White House lawn, and all of them inspire student questions, said Saulsbury, who started the collection when he was in the fifth grade.

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