Tags: compost, David Banks, lesson, Science
Question: Does compost material help plants grow? Use this worksheet and lab to explore the topic of composting.
For high school students, this lesson could probably be altered to be done in groups with minimal guidance. For middle school environments its best to keep the materials on one table and do a demonstration with the assistance of volunteers.
Science: biology, botany, plant science, food webs, ecology, earth’s natural cycles, geology
Students learn the what goes into compost and how it is made. Students will also be asked to observe and compare the how well home-made compost works against store-bought soil. The lesson is best used as a review of several related concepts. Good for the end of the year to review for exams, finals, or standardized tests. Also makes a good, straight-forward, scientific method activity.
Students are shown compost at varying stages. Describe and ask students to identify, parts of the compost. Explain which parts provide nitrogen, and what parts provide carbon. If there are worms in the compost, describe the roll of decomposers. Tailor this section to whatever lesson you want to review.
-Freshly-discarded table scraps suitable for composting.
-Somewhat decomposed organic matter. Compost should be in the “smelly” stage.
-two potted plant containers that drain
-package of seeds of your preferred plant.
Composting must be done well in advance. Contact local gardening clubs or community gardens to see if they can provide some at various stages.
Mix activated carbon into the compost to reduce the smell of decaying vegetable matter.
synthesizes multiple lessons that are usually taught separately.
Great introduction to a highly useful skill.
straight-forward scientific method activity
Compost can smell REALLY bad.
might be difficult to acquire multiple stages of compost.
Compost v. potting soil experiment:
Using a 50:50 ratio of compost to potting soil, fill one plant pot.
Fill the other pot with all potting soil.
Place a few seeds in each pot.
Ask students to chart the height of plants at specific time intervals. Have students keep observation journals or record the data on a big chart in the classroom.