Thursday, November 4, 2010

Elementary, My Dear Watson

This afternoon I gave a presentation on composting to a class of 25 4th graders in Cahokia, Illinois. My niece's daughter is in the class, and she had been bragging to her teacher about her aunt and uncle who own a composting facility. As the class has just finished discussing microbes and how they help to break things down, the teacher thought it would be perfect to have me come in and talk to the class. Normally I would just discuss the composting process, but Cordelia had told them I would be bringing my "trash" along, so I modified the program a bit to include recycling.

I talk to the students about the different kinds of landfills and recycling centers available, and then each gets to pick a piece of trash out of my garbage bag. They then have to decide which of the centers that I talked about would accept the "trash". They don't always get the category right, but at the end of the day the point is that of all the pounds of trash I brought along, nothing had to go to the sanitary landfill. It all could be recycled in one way or another.

From there I talk about backyard composting, and then expand on what we do at a commercial composting center. I have large photographs showing them the equipment we use as well as some of the places around town that have used our compost. But by far their favorite part of the presentation is when I bring out our worms so we can talk about vermicomposting. Kids love worms! We have a stacking vermicompost bin at our house, so I have to remove some of the worms and their compost and place them in my traveling worm bin. Everyone was allowed to come up and gently pick up worms if they so desired. Surprisingly most of the kids were game. And my favorite part is when the kids finally figure out that they have their hands in worm poop. Priceless!

But they were great, and I think they enjoyed talking about recycling and composting. And maybe a few will take something home from today and make some positive changes in their own lives.

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