What do you think about when you read the word “worm”? Maybe fishing, dark places under rocks, or “yuck.”
At Orchard Park Elementary School, when we think worms we think about recycling. Teachers at OPES have begun to add vermicomposting to their curriculum and classroom.
Worms are decomposers. The role of a decomposer is to break down decaying matter. We have more than 1,500 worms in classrooms that are breaking apart waste leftover from our lunches. Children collect scraps such as banana peels, carrots, lettuce, apple cores and other non-fatty items from their lunch trash. Classrooms participating in vermicomposting then receive the scraps to feed their worms. They absolutely love seeing the castings that have been left behind and see how quickly worms eat the different items in the bins.
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Some classes are doing field research to see which food item the worms prefer. Other classes are observing to see if the worms prefer food items or “brown” items such as newspaper and brown paper towels. Once we have enough material from the worms, we will mix it in with our gardens and have natural nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Now that even more children know about how to create and maintain a worm composting bin, they are teaching other classes and parents how to compost. Just another great way that OPES Eagles are soaring high with pride!
Erin Martinez is a fifth-grade teacher at Orchard Park Elementary School. This column will rotate among different Fort Mill School District teachers.