Students dig through a compost heap to see what they can discover about decomposition and then take a sample from the heap to look at through lenses and microscopes.
- ID Sheet, pencils for writing, and drawing clipboard
- microscopes, flashlights, magnifying lenses
- shovel, trowel, pick, plastic petri dishes
- hand wipes, sanitizing gel, tweezers
- Docent asks students what they know about a compost heap.
- Docent prompts students to hypothesize about how composting works.
- Docent hands out collection dishes and explains that they are for collecting a sample at the compost pile.
- Docent takes students to compost heap.
- Students explore heap with a shovel, trowels, and a pick learning that compost heaps have to be turned to help keep the temperature hot to aid in decomposition. (Older students will take temperature readings.)
- They choose a sample and put it in their collection dishes.
- Docent takes students back to pavilion where they can examine the sample they took through microscopes and magnifying glasses.
- Older students can use an ID sheet to identify some of the critters found in a compost heap and read about the function that critter performs. Younger students can use ID sheets, but Docent, teachers and helpers can aid them in understanding the critters role in a compost heap.
Alabama Course of Study for Science
This activity meets goals specified for grades:
- K–#âs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20
- 1st–#âs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 20, 21, 26, 27
- 2nd–#âs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- 3rd–#âs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 13, 32, 38, 39
- 4th–#âs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 41, 43, 46
- 5th–#âs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 30
Students will discover the cycle of decomposition and the part composting plays in that larger cycle. Students will also understand the cycle of life within the compost heap.
- Students will be able to:
- examine a compost heap.
- explore and hypothesize what composting is.
- identify and examine parts of a compost heap, and critters that live in a compost heap.