DuBOIS – Over the past year and a half, students at DuBois Area Middle School have explored and learned about vermicomposting – the process by which worms eat leftover food.
Vermicomposting takes organic waste and turns it into a rich organic soil amendment, said teacher Cory Sholes, who is also a sponsor of the school’s Greenhouse / Outdoor Club. This product contains a diverse blend of nutrients and microorganisms that improve the composition of the soil.
Vermicompost is the product that results from the digestion and decomposition of organic waste by micro and macro-organisms. Before this large-scale system became a reality, students used three different small-scale systems to learn about vermicomposting, Sholes said.
The 5ft by 16ft vermicomposter is located in the maintenance building behind the visitor bleachers at NextTier Bank Field at Mansell Stadium. Once assembly is complete, the vermicomposter will provide plenty of learning opportunities for middle school students, Sholes said.
The vermicomposter will provide students with opportunities to learn about habitats, ecosystems, organic decomposition, soil food web, ecological sustainability, microbiology, waste reduction, measurement and recycling.
There will also be many cross-cutting opportunities to involve students in practical sciences (anatomy), mathematics (population growth, inputs / outputs and capacity), economics (costs and profits of waste) and English and the language arts (research, writing and observation) concepts to study, said Sholes.
This system will also have an impact and benefit the local community by diverting organic waste from landfills, reducing waste collection costs and creating resources from waste that will impact the community for years to come, Sholes said.
Martin’s of DuBois has also engaged in a community / school partnership with the Greenhouse / Outdoor Club to provide ongoing donation of product waste to the vermicomposting project. The project will also receive waste products from the school cafeteria and Charlie Chen.