Learning about the compost lab is learning how to build a compost pile, identify organisms and understand the purposes of the compost in the garden. It also means understanding how things work interdependently in a small system and how every individual entity plays an important role in the process.
I have learnt that, to make the lesson fun and more informative to the students, we can discuss the necessary components of the compost pile using compost cake as a visual aid.
Using cards to represent different compost cake ingredients such as C for carbon (sticks, woodchips, hay, straw, ‘’the brown’’), N for nitrogen (living plant matter like leaves and grasses, ‘’the green’’), and M for manure (horse, duck, cattle, chicken manure which are rich in microorganism), we can give our students clear and specific ideas for making the compost pile.
For our students to easily remember the compost components, we can divide it into three main categories of organisms responsible for decomposition, we can use the acronym ‘FBI’ (fungus, bacteria, and invertebrates). While this may seem more of a western acronym, however, we can change and give our version of an acronym that has our own context orientation, e.g. Bhutan India Friendship for ‘BIF’ (bacteria, invertebrates and fungus).
We can also explain that the decomposers, like all living organisms, have three main basic needs such as food, water and air for survival. So, when creating a compost pile, we are creating an environment suitable for the ‘FBI or BIF’ by providing food, water and air. This will help our students understand why we are watering and turning the piles from time to time.
Through compost lessons, we can also address different subjects such as science where we can discuss habitat and ecosystem, in a math lesson we can record temperature and calculate Celsius to Fahrenheit, and for art lessons, the students may create posters, visual aids and videos for the classroom as visual reminders of what can and cannot be composted.