My students are phenomenal! We have a very average mix of ability levels, but what stands out about our kids is their determination and grit. This tight knit group of kids is also extremely compassionate and generous. They worked hard last year organizing several supply drives and doing volunteer work to benefit their community.
They are inquisitive go-getters that are eager to be successful in life, despite any personal hardships they may have had to overcome.
Our school population is 65% economically disadvantaged and 64% are Hispanic. Although our area is technically a suburb of Houston, much of our district is still very rural and many of our students live in mobile homes and in flood prone areas. Our school is a unique program in the district and is still pretty new. The students take college classes while still in high school and are able to graduate at the end of four years with an Associate's degree. We have an extremely limited budget that provides for most basic supplies that we need, however, we frequently don't have money for enrichment supplies that really help connect the students with the concepts we teach.
We would like to begin a composting initiative at our school that would ultimately allow us to recycle all of the fresh food waste from our cafeteria. The first step of this initiative will start in my environmental science classes where students will study vermiculture, or composting with worms.
From this project, student will learn: 1) how materials break down in the environment over time, 2) how different environmental and biological conditions affect the decomposition process, 3) how we can reduce the amount of food waste from our cafeteria that goes into the landfill, 4) how we can reuse the recycled soils in order to enrich the indoor and outdoor garden areas around school, and 5) scientific data collection methods.
Each of my three environmental science classes will set up and manage their own composting worm farm. Every class period they will record data on the conditions of the worms and soil (temperature, moisture, pH, mineral levels, etc), as well as make decisions on the items (the types and how much) that should be added to their farm as worm food. Because each class will be managing their own vermiculture project, they will be able to study each other's methods in order to determine the best course of action for our long-term initiative. Eventually, we hope to get some large compositing bins outside in order to handle the daily fresh food waste from the cafeteria. By doing these experiments on a small scale, I want to make my environmental science students experts on worm composting and eventually be able to be leaders for the school-wide project. In addition, students will be using engaging and hands on methods to study many of the topics we cover in class - the carbon cycle, nutrients in soils, waste management, recycling, etc.
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