Composting

Kids Making Compost

Question: My children aren't interested in hearing about carbon and nitrogen; they just want to build the compost pile. How can I make sure we end up with compost?

Compost Pile Size

Question: Do we really need a 3- foot-tall compost pile? It's taller than the kids! What will we do with all that compost?

The Rottin' Truth

A compost pile is simply a huge smorgasbord for billions of microorganisms. As with all living things, these creatures require: nutrients (carbon for energy and nitrogen to build proteins), water, and oxygen for respiration. Here's the short course in creating a sizzling outdoor pile.

Getting Hooked on Worms

A million of them could live in an acre of soil. They can "eat" their own weight in soil and organic matter every day. They help recycle organic matter, making the nutrients available to plants through their rich castings, and they're easy to raise. With such potential for teaching environmental concepts, it's a wonder that more classrooms haven't gotten "hooked on worms." Here's one classroom highlight....

Friend or Foe?

Overview

Students learn that some microorganisms are beneficial to humans, while others are harmful.

Materials:

  • Internet
  • chart paper or chalk board
  • pots
  • legume seeds (beans or peas)
  • potting soil
  • rhizobia bacteria*
  • rulers, pencils, and journals

*Available from garden centers or catalogs such as Carolina Biological

Building a Lasagna Garden

Compost pockets in the top layer of this lasagna bed await transplantsIt's not too late to grow a garden this summer. Here's a great idea for building a raised-bed garden that won't break your back and gets your kids interested in gardening. The technique is called lasagna gardening and it creates an instant garden out of materials right at hand. There's no need to till or dig up the lawn, because the sod will break down and actually feed your plants as the summer progresses.

Way-Cool Student Compost

Sure, compost is made from kitchen scraps ranging from broccoli stems to coffee grounds, but the term is usually applied to plant material once microbes have heated, then transformed it into a rich, earthy mixture. Eighth grade student Aaron Didich had another idea.

Soil Sleuths

The following time-honored activities can provide springboards for engaging students in exploring soils and how they "act."

Worm Activities for the Classroom

The True Measure of a Worm

Challenge students to guess the length of an earthworm, then try using a ruler or tape measure to determine the actual size. Ask, What problems do you encounter? After watching how earthworms move, why do you think it's difficult to measure their true length? What is it about their bodies that might cause them to seem to shrink and grow? How do you think this helps them move through soil? Draw bar graphs comparing an estimate of a worm's length with its true length, both when stretched out and when shortened.

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Last updated on 04/16/2014
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