Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Promote Global WORMING! Activities, Assessment and Feedback

Worms Live Here, Happy, Hungry Worms! by Buffalo ReUse
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

It's time to build a worm home, a vermicomposting container, where you can feed and raise red worms, or tiger worms, that will turn shredded paper and vegetables into new soil for class gardens or potted plants.

This is the culminating event of the "Promote Global WORMING! project. Even though many people have their own methodology for creating worm bins for vermicomposting, I've selected a simple one that can serve as a large group worm bin for an entire class. If the leader, teacher, has enough room, each of the intial four groups would learn the most by making their own worm composting bin to analyze and develop.

Several activities found in the Project WILD Aquatic curriculum guide are related to this study of worm (decomposers) habitats or can be used as extensions. For instance, the "Edge of Home" activity found on pages 75-78, can be used to tie in the connection between aquatic, semi-aquatic and dry land habitats. This activity refers to the study of ecotones, so it would be an excellent extension for upper elementary to adult learners.

Other Project WILD Aquatic lessons and activities should be used or adapted for this project, including another great activity about habitats and riparian areaa, "Blue Ribbon Niche" on pages 52-55. "Wetland Metaphors", on pages 39-42, would help students understand more about the productivity of wetlands where earthworms are part of the decomposer species.

Each group will follow the directions provided and create their own worm bin. Young students will need adult assistance drilling holes in the top bucket. A list of supplies is listed in the instructional website: How To Build An Indoor Worm Composter. This activity is an adaptation of the Project WILD Aquatic project, "Designing a Habitat", found on pages 18-20.

Enjoy the final activities and assessment. Your completion of the feedback survey at the end of this post is greatly appreciated in advance.

Students will:
  1. create a habitat where earthworms, red worms, can thrive and reproduce. The assessment for this objective will be journal keeping, including picture taking until the worms reproduce.
  2. create a graph or chart to measure inputs...the stuff to put in the worm bin.
  3. create a comparison graph to measure outputs...the newly created soil, worm eggs and young worms.
ACTIVITY #1: Using the instructions provided, students will create their habitat. Take pictures to include in their Worm journals. Using this setup described in the directions will eliminate excess "brown water" or fertilizer, and the students will measure the initial inputs, including:
  • worms
  • shredded paper
  • empty buckets
  • vegetable matter
  • any other inputs
As the learners begin journaling, the leader, teacher, would be well served to adapt the Project Wild Aquatic activity, Aquatic Times, found on pages 188-189. The classroom product could be called Decomposer Times or a similar name. Let the learners brainstorm names and vote on the top 5 favorites.

ACTIVITY #2: Each day, student(s) will measure and journal the amounts of added inputs. Students will add pictures to their journal. This activity lends itself to an online journa, including a class wiki.

ACTIVITY #3: When students observe water in the bottom bucket, they should begin recording this in their output charts. Note how long it takes to collect a liter of water, and answer questions such as:
If we aren't adding water to the composting bin, how is it draining into the bottom bucket?

ACTIVITY #4: As students observe the worms in the bin, they will discover eggs and young earthworms. They can include this in their journal writing and take pictures. They will answer questions such as:
How many days did it take for the worms in our bin to reproduce?
How does that compare or contrast to the other groups worm bins?
If there was a significant difference in time needed for worms to reproduce, what may have caused the differences?

Activity #5: This will be the time to have each group share their findings in any type of presentation they choose. After their creations and presentations are given, then given them the post test discussed in the first posting, Promote Global WORMING! Prior Knowledge and Post Project Assessment.

Whenever learning occurs, it's always wonderful to have feedback, so prepare a short survey to answer the questions you may have for your students. This survey was adapted from a more comprehensive Project WILD Aquatic workshop feedback survey. If you would like a copy of the more extensive feedback survey, email me.

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