Composting


Decomposition is a natural process to eliminate organic waste left by plants and animals. Bacteria and other creatures known as decomposers break down leaves, grass, food scraps and sticks to make a nutrient rich additive for soil. Compost is an inexpensive alternative to buying fertilizers and prevents yard waste from going to a landfill. Yard and food waste makes up 13% of household waste that is thrown away in the United States.
 
Composting Classroom Activities
PreK-3: CSI: Compost Science Investigation
Grades 3-6: Decomposition
 
 
OBJECTIVE
 
Students will compost organic material and observe how materials decompose.
 
MATERIALS
 
  • Compost materials: leaves, vegetable, fruit, bread, plant clippings, hay, straw, strips of newspaper, sawdust, pine needles 
  • Composting container: clear heavy large plastic bag, zip lock baggie, or clear plastic 2-Litter bottle or glass jar; 5 gallon bucket
  • Natural activator: garden soil, compost, manure, alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal 
  • Scoop: garden shovel, spoon
 
VOCABULARY
 
Compost, decomposition, organic matter
 
PROCEDURES
 
Students can compost as a class experiment or in teams. Students collect food waste from home or from their lunches. No oil, dairy, bones, meats or salad dressing.
 
Create mixture by mixing all materials in a large bucket unless you plan to test materials separately. Add 2 parts brown (leaves, hay, straw, newspaper or sawdust), 1 parts green (vegetable, fruit, bread, plant clippings or pine needles), and 1 part activator. Fill container three-fourth full with compost mixture. Sprinkle water to make moist, if needed. Seal the container or bag and knead or shake. Keep container in a warm place. As an alternative experiment, added water to the compost and leave other dry; aerate compost by allowing oxygen in the container and leave the other sealed without air.

Allow air into compost and mix it every few days.
 
Students should record observations once a week for 6 to 8 weeks on changes in composition of the compost mixture and color of compost.
 
CONCLUSION
 
Review changes of the compost materials throughout the experiment.
 
TIME
 
One class period for prep, long term observations.
 
EXTENSION
 
Use a mixture of soil and compost to plant seeds. 
Create compost pile outside to continue composting at school

Subscribe to our newsletter

View our Calendar of Events
Events