All that harvesting, pruning, processing and eating will generate plant waste. But that’s not the end of the life cycle of food. The Earth Cube composter turns that organic waste into beautiful “black gold” that can be used to recapture and feed nutrients back to the raised beds and seed station. The Students will also use compost teas as fertilizers and foliar sprays to improve the plants in the gardens. Nothing goes to waste.
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How the Earth Cube Turns Waste Into Gold (Beginner)
The Earth Cube is an amazing piece of equipment that supercharges the thermophilic composting process. This lesson allows students to participate in the setup of the system in order to better understand its operation.
Battle of the Bugs (Intermediate)
The Earth Cube is much more than a fancy box for composting. It’s solar powered aeration system makes finished compost possible in a fraction of the time. This lesson challenges the students will proving just how efficient the Earth Cube is compared to a static pile.
Crunch the Numbers (Advanced)
If we’re being honest, the waste management practice in the US is poor at best. In this lesson, students will calculate the impact that a city-wide program would have on the local landfill.
Earth Cube Compost System: Composting Operations Manual (included with your Earth Cube)
5.2 That’s Not Trash?
Understanding Compost (Beginner)
Good finished compost has a specific look, feel, and smell. In this lesson, students will experience those attributes first hand and learn to identify good compost by sight, smell, and touch.
Composting at Scale (Intermediate)
It’s time to take this composting show on the road. In this lesson, students will take a filed trip to a local municipal composting facility to see how it can be scaled to serve an entire community.
Waste Partners (Advanced)
The brutal truth is that most commercial enterprises simply don’t see the financial benefit in composting waste. But your school might represent a viable option. In this lesson, students will discuss the merits of scaling up their composting operation to accept inputs from community sources.
Earth Cube Compost System: Composting Operations Manual
5.3 Trash or Compost?
What Can and Can’t Go In Our Compost Bin (Beginner)
Not everything from the kitchen or garden can be tossed into the compost bin. This lesson sharpens each student’s skills at identifying what can and cannot be composted.
Up Close with Compost (Intermediate)
The composting process unfolds everyday in the natural world. In the Lab, this process can be completed in as little as 45 days. This lesson requires students to closely follow the process from start to finish.
Can I Have Your Attention Please? (Advanced)
Scaled composting operations are swell to talk about but nothing says you’re serious like some sound figures. This lesson walks students through the process of creating a feasibility study for presentation to the school board.
Compost Flash Cards
5.4 Super Soil
What Makes Compost So Special (Beginner)
Composting is one of the more valuable processes in the garden for maintaining and building soil health. This lesson teaches students how to apply compost in the raised beds as a soil amendment.
Optimal Organics (Intermediate)
We often think of the soil as just dirt but good dirt is much more than that. In this lesson, students will explore the three primary components of good soil and determine just how much organic material is needed to dial in the raised planters.
Teach Mother Nature a Thing or Two (Advanced)
Natural processes are hard to beat but occasionally man finds a way to coax the process along a little faster. This lesson challenges students to improve on the natural composting process.
Composting for Kids (VIDEO)
5.5 Making Dirt
Types of Composting and Where They Are Used (Beginner)
There are numerous methods of composting, each with its own set of advantages and challenges. In this lesson, students will explore these composting methods in detail to identify their specific uses.
Hugelkultur Mounds (Intermediate)
Hugelkultur is as fun to say as the mounds are to build. These long-term composting structures are extremely effective at maintaining soil nutrient health. In this lesson, students will build one and monitor it over time.
A Little of This, A Little of That (Advanced)
It’s better to be a jack-of-all-trades as they say. In this lesson, students will take that approach to composting by employing multiple methods around campus to determine how much impact it has collectively on the waste stream leaving the school.
5.6 Hungry Critters
Insects at Work in Compost Systems (Beginner)
Composting is the result of countless participants, some microorganisms, working in concert. In this lesson, students will profile the insects commonly found in the composting process.
Composting Critters (Intermediate)
There are countless critters that assist in the composting process. In this lesson, students will get to know some of them a little better and expand the catalog of microorganisms by adding a section for composting.
Introducing the Starting Lineup (Advanced)
Students need to understand the impact that each player has on the composting process to truly understand the dynamics of the process. This lesson allows them to demonstrate their understanding of the composting process with an artist rendering of sorts.
5.7 Now We’re Cookin’!
Organic material breaks down as a result of the bacterial activity and it heats up . In this lesson, students will test the temperature of the compost bin during the process to maintain the optimal temperature for creating finished compost.
Chart Your Progress (Intermediate)
There is a natural progression to the composting process. As the bacteria become more active feeding on the organic material the entire pile heats up. In this lesson, students will chart the thermal fluctuations of the pile from start to finish.
Is That a Compost Heater? (Advanced)
Sometimes systems can be integrated to accomplish more than one goal. In this lesson, students will explore ways to harness the heat created during the composting process for other uses.
Compost Log Triggers
5.8 Something Stinks!
Evaluating Compost By Smell (Beginner)
The composting process has a built-in early warning system that can be detected easily by the human nose. In this lesson, students will learn to perform a smell test to determine if the composting process is functioning properly.
5.9 DIY Waste Management
How Composting Improves the Environment (Beginner)
Americans are wasteful. It’s a fact and the amount of compostable garbage that we send to the landfill is shameful. In this lesson, students will analyze a bag of garbage to determine just how much can be composted rather than finding its way to the landfill.
Waste Not, Want Not (Intermediate)
An individual family can produce an unbelievable amount of waste in a week. Now imagine how much is produced at your school. In this lesson, students will analyze the waste from the school to determine just how much can be composted and diverted from the landfill.
Food for the Trees (Advanced)
Every school allows nutrients to be trucked out the door to the landfill only to have to buy fertilizers and soil amendments for the trees on campus. This lesson challenges students to measure the impact of this imbalance.
5.10 Compost Collection
The composting process is basically the same at any scale. So in this lesson, students will identify some local businesses that represent potential composting partners capable of providing inputs for a large scale operation.
I’m Here for Your Waste (Intermediate)
Many local municipalities have large-scale composting operations as a method of reducing pressure on landfills. But what if your school took on the challenge of composting for the community? This lesson tasks students with the broad strokes of such a program.
Take the Lead (Advanced)
Schools have the opportunity to be civic leaders. This lesson sets the stage for your school to take the lead on a community-wide composting initiative. It all starts with strategic planning.
5.11 The Magic Elixir
Compost tea, can you drink it? That’s the most common question in class the first time they brew compost tea. This lesson walks students through the process of brewing compost tea from finished compost.
Tea Party in the Garden (Intermediate)
Compost is biologically active and compost tea can concentrate those nutrients and bacteria in an easy-to-use liquid. This lesson challenges students to demonstrate the impact that compost tea has on plant production through an A/B test.
The best compost tea is the one that satisfies the specific needs of your soil. In this lesson, students will concoct the perfect tea recipe to balance the nutrient profile of the soil in your planters.
5.12 Clean or Dirty?
The Difference Between Good and Bad Compost (Beginner)
Not all compost is created equal. In fact, some are finished with a finer particle size or specific nutrient profile. In this lesson, students will use their senses to compare and evaluate finished compost.
Does Your Compost Pass the Test? (Intermediate)
The nutrient profile of compost can vary from one batch to another and is highly dependent on its inputs. In this lesson, students will perform a nutrient test on a sample of their finished compost to create a nutrient profile for the entire batch.
Head-to-Head Compost Throwdown (Advanced)
You may not be aware but there is a huge rift in the composting community. Some argue that vermicast is superior to thermophilic compost. This lesson will settle the battle once and for all as students use a series of tests to tap a winner.