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This ESD resource focuses on a sustainable approach to managing organic waste. Students explore the environmental, social and economic aspects of waste disposal and apply what they have learned by building and operating a vermicomposter.
The activities are divided into several sections.
Part A – Getting Ready – Asking Why?
Activity A1 : Students draw a map to illustrate where the waste they produce goes and the economic, social, and environmental consequences that result along the way.
Activity A2 : Students design their own controlled experiment to determine the various factors that affect decomposition.
Part B – Building the Composter Day
Activity B1 : As a warm-up, students answer trivia questions from different categories such as worm facts, composting basics and environmental, social & economic perspectives on waste disposal.
Activity B2: Working in groups, students conduct a 'lunch waste' audit, categorize the types of waste collected and figure out what percentage is recyclable and compostable as opposed to being 'garbage'.
Activity B3: After viewing a brief video on how to build a vermicomposter, students construct their own version.
Activity B4: Students participate in a class discussion on how to appropriately handle and care for the composter worms. Students who feel comfortable are encouraged to touch the worms and examine their physical characteristics.
Activity B5: After conducting research, students create a brochure that describes the process of composting.
Activity B6: The class compiles all the data they collected regarding the types and amounts of waste. This data is used in activity C5.
Part C includes essential follow-up activities.
Activity C1: Students answer reflection questions.
Activity C2: Students create an easy-to-read poster highlighting the steps involved in feeding the worms.
Activity C3: The class develops and implements a plan for feeding, monitoring and caring for the worms.
Activity C4: Students prepare a short educational presentation for other classes that will receive a composter.
Activity C5: Students individually create a graph that shows the distribution of waster based on the class data from activity B2.
Activity C6: Students create a log to track the distribution of waste in the class.
Part D includes activities to extend the learning.
Activity D1: Students create a diagram to illustrate the inputs, outputs and activities of the vermicomposter as a system.
Activity D2: Students brainstorm ideas on how they can reduce the amount of waste they send to the landfill. Students then choose a time-frame for honouring their commitment. They will keep a log of how the process goes.
Activity D3: Students harvest the compost, then donate it to a suitable recipient such as a community garden.
Activity D4: The class conducts a waste audit of the entire school.
Activity D5: Students reduce more waste by creating then selling or sharing reusable bags. Students can also create posters for local grocery stores encouraging people to bring their own bags.
The resource explicitely teaches:
This action-project is original and interesting. The first two parts of the resource are very well developed and include sufficient support materials for the teacher and students. There is a good balance of hands-on activities and written activities to engage a wide range of learner types.
The two latter parts of the resource will require additional material to be provided by the teacher.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Good|
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Very Good|
Students are explicitly directed to examine the ecological, social and economic implications of waste.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Very Good|
Students are definitely active participants in their learning. Their efforts will have a positive impact on their school and their community
|Acting on Learning: |
Learning moves from understanding issues to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community, or for the planet
|Values Education||Very Good|
Throughout every phase of the project, students must answer reflection questions, orally or in writing to clarify what they are doing and why.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Poor/Not considered|
|Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).|
|Personal Affinity with Earth||Good|
Students are taught the value of the worms and how to care for them in a safe and humane manner.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
|Locally-Focused Learning||Very Good|
The learning is directed at the school and in the community.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Satisfactory|
Students are asked to consider the impacts of waste now and in the future.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
In many of the activities, students choose which approach they will adopt. The practical nature of the building and operation of the composter require some direction.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
This project includes elements of various subjects:
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
Although students will experience ah hah moments throughout this project, they must learn how to build and operate a vermicomposter.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
|Differentiated Instruction||Very Good|
This project includes a very good variety of activities that meet the needs of all types of learners.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
|Experiential Learning||Very Good|
Students will indeed reduce waste by creating real compost.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
Students will be working in groups, but cooperative learning skills are not explicitly taught.
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Satisfactory|
Assessment options are provided through the initial sections of the resource but are lacking in detail and with the exception of B5, do not include rubrics.
|Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.|
Students will teach other classes how to use a vermicomposter. They will also teach waste-reducing strategies to the school and the community.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
|Case Studies||Poor/Not considered|
|Case Studies: |
Relevant case studies are included. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore concepts in an authentic context.
|Locus of Control||Satisfactory|
Students are given limited choices throughout the project, but all students create a vermicomposter and all students create a brochure.
|Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.|