- Identify various microorganisms involved in the composting process
- Describe how these organisms aid in the com-posting process
There is something special about team activities. Often, teams are stronger than the sum of their parts. And in rare circumstances, the results that teams produce exceed the value of the inputs they have to work with. This is no more true than with vermicomposting.
Worms don’t work alone to break down food scraps and other organic material. There is a supporting cast of characters that includes bacteria, microorganisms, enzymes, and insects of various skills that support the efforts of those little Red Wigglers.
Consider this, soil and organic matter that a worm ingests is excreted as castings that are 5 times richer in nitrogen, 10 times richer in potassium, has 7 times more phosphate, 1.5 times as much calcium and 3 times the magnesium. And that is only possible with a little help from his friends.
Tools & Materials
- Worm casting samples
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson by introducing the supporting cast in the composting process, that is the bacteria, insects, and microorganisms that help the worms. Describe the role that each plays in the composting process.
Activity (20 minutes)
Using a microscope, analyze samples of the worm castings from a lower tray of the worm bin. Try to identify the various microorganisms that are present. Record the findings of the class.
Discussion (10 minutes)
What decomposers did we find in our compost? Do you think this indicates a healthy ecosystem?
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you think that worms get help from other organisms to compost scraps?
- Now that you’ve met some of the other organisms that aid in the composting process, how many of you think you could explain how they help the worms compost food scraps with help?
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