Composting in the Classroom: Scientific Inquiry for High School Students

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Learning Kit

This is a comprehensive guide for teachers interested in guiding composting research projects by high school students. Downloadable in pdf format.

The goal of Composting in the Classroom is to provide high school science teachers with the background needed to engage students in research focusing on composting.

There are a number of reasons why composting research lends itself well to the classroom setting. First, composting of yard wastes and food scraps presents a partial solution to the solid waste crisis; thus, composting research addresses practical problems of concern to students and their communities. Second, nearly all the equipment and materials are inexpensive and readily available. With proper maintenance to prevent odor and insect problems, composting systems can be set up in the classroom, as well as outdoors in the school yard. Finally, many experiments can be conducted within two weeks or less, although long-term composting research projects are also possible.

Composting in the Classroom begins with an overview of composting science (Chapter 1). Chapters 2 and 3 provide instructions on how to build and add the right mix of ingredients to compost systems. Chapter 4 outlines how to monitor the composting process, and Chapter 5 describes how to measure the attributes of the finished compost. Once students have made and tested their compost, they might want to use it in plant growth experiments (Chapter 6). Several important points about conducting research are included in Chapter 6 as well as in Chapter 7. This last chapter is a discussion of how to help students design meaningful research projects focusing on composting.

Nancy Trautmann and Marianne Krasny
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Target Audience: 
Grades 7-9
Grades 10-12
Geographic Location: 
All Minnesota
Outside Minnesota
126 pp.
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Contact(s) or order information.: 

Cornell Waste Management Institute
Department of Crop & Soil Sciences
Bradfield Hall, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-5601
Phone (607) 255-1187

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