Have you ever wondered what happens to items we use in our everyday lives when we are done with them? Many of the items eventually return to soil through the process of decomposition. Living organisms such as bacteria, fungi and worms break down materials into smaller pieces and digest them. By creating a small compost pile in your backyard or school yard, it’s easy to see some of the creatures responsible for decomposition up close. Many of the organisms present in a compost pile also live in healthy soils and perform the important task of cycling nutrients and organic matter.
Ask students to think about what they throw away both at home and at school on an average day. Which of these items can be composted?
-Identify an outside area of open grass or soil about 3 feet long by 3 feet wide
-Carbon-rich “brown” materials such as fall leaves, straw, dead flowers, wood chips, sticks and corn residue
-Nitrogen-rich “green” materials such as grass clippings, plant material and fruit and vegetable scraps
-A few buckets of garden soil
-A bucket of water
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