Jean Persely for NGA with Cynthia Domenghini, NGA Staff
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Jean shares some of her ideas to get kids interested in composting:
Ask students what happens to blue jeans and t-shirts in the landfills? Can they be composted?
Ask for an old cotton t-shirt and/or an old pair of jeans to be donated. Place them at the bottom of the compost pile, or use a smaller piece for a worm bin. Do the students realize they are wearing plants? How long will it take to break down? Have students make guesses as to what will happen to these old clothes.
Do you have multiple working compost bins at school? Have a t-shirt composting race with another class. Which class will have a faster compost pile? What causes one compost bin to decompose materials faster than the other? Was one pile being turned more than the other? Take the temperature inside the pile. Is one pile hotter than the other?
Consider doing an experiment with a piece of a t-shirt in one pile and a plastic bottle in another. Let the students predict what will happen.
As the wife of an active duty Marine, Jean Persely has made the most of her frequent moves by teaching others to “bloom where they are planted.” Jean has committed to making a positive impact on any community she joins. It was in 2005, that Jean developed a vision to impact a school community by planning the introduction of a garden.
Get a head start on the growing season with GrowLab® light gardens. Designed and tested by educators at the National Gardening Association, GrowLabs® are specifically developed to enable you to grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs from seed to maturity. Available in all shapes and sizes, GrowLabs ® are made to accommodate almost any space, need, and price range.
This curriculum unit, developed by the education staff at the National Gardening Association addresses the core specific elements of the water cycle for K-12 students. There are four grade specific lesson plans, but the lessons can easily be adapted to meet the needs of any age classroom. Content in the lessons covers different aspects of the water cycle and applying the principles to activities and inquiry that can be discussed in and out of the school garden.
If you like that activity, be sure to check out our new Compost Activity Kit which features standards-based lessons for the Kindergarten through eighth grade crowd.
Student gardener at Atwood Elementary contributing to the compost pile.Compost. It’s all around us. Whether we assist in the process or not, composting is taking place. If we choose not to use it, we are missing a valuable opportunity.
In schoolyards, backyards, and classrooms throughout North America – and beyond – students of all ages scan the skies for monarchs, monitor milkweed, document hummingbird arrivals, snap ladybug photos, notice nests, interview gardeners, report on bursting buds, and observe the color of firefly flashes. And that’s just for starters. In most cases, their next step is to go online and send their observations and measurements to a project website.
Noelle Kramer hadn’t planned to delve into citizen science, but her students were rather persuasive. As her third and fourth graders in Dixon, California read aloud from Time for Kids, something sparked their interest. “An article on a citizen science program called The Lost Ladybug Project asked kids to become ladybug spotters in order to help scientists find a native species that had nearly disappeared,” says Noelle.
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The Tale of the Lost Ladybugs
Once the state insect of New York, the nine-spotted ladybug population diminished until it all but disappeared from the radar. In fact when some youngsters spotted one of them near their Virginia home in 2006, it was the first of that species seen in the Eastern United States in 14 years! John Losey and other scientists at Cornell University figured that if lots of eyes scoured the country, they might help find more of them along with some other native lady beetles that were also disappearing. And so, the Lost Ladybug Project was born. But it wasn’t just about documenting locals. Scientists – and many homeowners – noticed that populations of other ladybugs were exploding. This included the orangey Asian lady beetle, which was introduced in this country to control pests. Have these imports excluded the native species from their habitats? This is one of the questions that scientists are exploring, thanks to a growing team of citizen scientists.
Engaging ordinary people in science research isn’t something new. In fact, one of the first formal citizen science projects, the Christmas Bird Count, began in 1900! But in the last 20 years or so, many scientists and educators have embraced this strategy as a winning research and educational tool. Here we describe some of the projects that just might engage your young gardeners, habitat sleuths, and environmental stewards.
"Exploring life in the river near our school intrigued my third and fourth graders," reports Waits River, VT, teacher Cheryl Ollman. "But, of course, the time for working outside is limited by our climate. When I discovered that a local educational group was experimenting with an indoor river simulation, I volunteered to test it out in my classroom."