You will probably already be aware of the benefits of worms to help teach students about history, science, sustainability and much more. The idea is practical and appealing as not only can you achieve a practical composter in the classroom worms help speed composting up and that sense of speed and action is very useful – particularly when dealing with younger folks.
It’s obviously important to engage as many in the class as possible so important to ensure the worms are working well (and so avoiding smells and flies and so on). Getting teams of students involved in looking after the worms and recycling their lunch scraps can be a really hands on learning experience.
As the composting gets going managing the moisture, carbon and pH is all part of the learning process – for example you might need to put less fruit in, you will probably need to add some dry material and so on… Then there’s the process of how to remove the finished composting without touching the worms as well as harvesting the liquid feed.
We have an extensive Wiggly Wizard to answer just about every wormy question but in the meantime here’s a few Wiggly tips on how to worm composting in your classroom.
Not Too Wet. There is a certain moisture level that worms like. It’s the least amount of moisture you can have and still maintain the process. The material in the bin should be damp, but definitely not wet. Adding dry carbon material (like shredded paper or cardboard) helps everytime you add kitchen or lunch scraps.
Mix stuff a little if need be. To control any smells when you add kitchen scraps, it’s a good idea to cover them them with dry, carbon-rich materials, such as like shredded paper and crumbled dry leaves. These materials absorb excess moisture and it incorporates oxygen.
Chop Things Up. Worms can deal with chopped waste faster than if it’s left in larger bits so chopping and increasing surface area is a real help for the worms and the speed of your composting.
Be Careful with what you add. Avoid adding bread or pasta, meat, dairy products or oils. Whilst worms will compost just about anything that has lived and died they are more difficult for worms to digest.
No doubt there will be a huge array of activities you can base around the composting and the worms themselves but the main message is Have fun and study a complete eco-system at your fingertips.