Storybook Science: Compost Stew

Storybook Science: Compost Stew

Compost Stew
We made Compost Stew! This was one of my favorite activities ever, because it really shows how LONG it takes for things to biodegrade in a landfill. The interesting thing about compost stew and the recycling experiement is watching what happens. So, to see how long it takes just for paper to degrade is a valuable understanding. So many times with our trash we think, out of sight, out of mind. I’m a practical recycler, and I don’t have a compost pile, but, at least I understand the value of recycling. My main goal with both of these experiments was for all of us to gain a real world understanding of managing trash, and realizing that we can do our part. Staying curious and asking questions.

Supplies:

An empty glass or plastic container with lid

Spoons for scooping in dirt to container.

Yard dirt or local dirt to fill up container at least half way

Biodegradable items: Use the Compost Stew book , it has lots of choices.

Compost Stew
Starting our stew

1- We took turns filling up the jar about 1/4 full, with our dirt.

2- Capt. D. put in the soft fresh pear pieces.

3-JoJo added used coffee grounds.

4- Capt. D. added a snip of my hair.

5- JoJo added dryer lint.

6- The boys finished by spooning the rest of the dirt into the jar and sealing the lid.

Compost Stew
Adding pears
Compost Stew
Filling in dirt at the end

 

What we knew: We didn’t know anything about composting.

What we wanted to know: What exactly is composting anyway?

What we learned: How easy it is to make a compost stew and what we can throw in there.

Watch and see what happens: A week later we are still checking daily to see if the things we put in have become one with the dirt.

Compost Stew
I love the Earth, Thank you Earth, Compost Stew

I also read I love the Earth by Todd Parr, and Thank you Earth which is a photograph book with one sentence of a poem on each page, during the two weeks we did these experiments. I read the other two books out loud, during our regular daily reading time. These books aren’t considered science books, but if we emotionally connect with nature, nature IS biology. Which is science. We live in the mountains, but one of the things the boys asked me today is to go and see how the canal microsystem has changed. 

Storybook Science: Recycle Everyday

Storybook Science: Recycle Everyday

Recycle Everyday
Watch and see what happens to paper and plastic, the beginning.

The books we read: The Earth and I by Frank Asch and Compost Stew By Mary McKenna Siddals

SUPPLIES:

Biodegradable and Non Biodegradable Materials: any type of paper, plastic, metal, cardboard

Jars with lids, water to fill the jars

Sticky notes and a pen for labeling jars

We chose: bottle plastic, grocery bag plastic, an old cardboard book cover and bond paper to put into our jars of water.

What we know: We read the books and talked about where trash goes. We talked about what happens if our Landfill got full with trash, where would we put another one? We decided WE didn’t’ want a landfill next to where WE live.

What we wanted to know: Do things go away (dissolve/biodegrade) once they are buried in a landfill.

The prediction was that all of our materials would dissolve.

The boys- (4yo and 6yo),  filled two jars apiece up with water. Then cut up a few pieces of their items to put in their jars.

What Happens to Plastic Bags?
What happens to Plastic Bags?

We checked our covered specimens every day, a week later the cardboard and paper showed signs of dissolving. The book cover turned the water a bit green. After a week the plastic had not changed at all. We were ALL surprised that the bond paper was only soft, not dissolved yet.

What we learned: We talked about our observations, and that plastic stays in landfills. We also talked realized that plastic won’t dissolve in the ocean, either. That’s why we recycle our plastic, and even our paper. Otherwise, where will all the garbage go?

Finally, we watched a 3 min. video about the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, which shows the result of what can happen to trash if not disposed of properly. No verbal narration, but the words can be read outloud if desired. 

https://youtu.be/1qT-rOXB6NI

(The video provided transition to our compost experiment, next post.)

Watch and see what happens: the boys still check the jars daily to see how the paper is changing.