Welcome educators! If you’re thinking of vermicomposting or featuring earthworms in your school or classrooms, then let me be the first to congratulate you!
Worm composting, aka vermicomposting, uses earthworms to consume organic waste and produce worm castings, a valuable byproduct that can be used in school gardens to create a true closed loop recycling system.
The Urban Worm Company is pleased to promote waste reduction in our schools while teaching environmental stewardship to our children through our discounted Urban Worm Bag purchasing program, Teacher’s Guide to Vermicomposting, and support for teachers and administrators looking to employ earthworms in the classroom or school.
The Urban Worm Company’s Classroom Vermicomposting Program
Vermicomposting makes for an excellent teaching tool! Not only can your kids learn the science behind vermicomposting (our knowledge of which is still evolving, which is exciting!), you can promote environmental stewardship, create an inexpensive hands-on experience with a live worm bin, and promote vermicomposting to school administrators as a way of recycling tons of cafeteria food waste.
There are many different ways to vermicompost in the classroom. You can use a modified Rubbermaid bin, a plastic stackable system, or the all-new Urban Worm Bag, a breathable, simple-to-use vermicomposting system that maintains aerobic conditions in your bin to promote an awesome byproduct without unpleasant odors.
Step 1: Join the Urban Worm Company E-Mail List
Step 2: Get the Teacher's Guide to Vermicomposting
This handy guide not only explains the basics of vermicomposting, but also gives you some ideas about how to engage your students with vermicomposting. But this guide is just the beginning. I am working with an educational publisher to create grade-appropriate curricula that I can eventually distribute to all participating teachers and school administrators.
Step 3: Get the Discounted Urban Worm Bag
Bonus Step 4: Ask Administrators About a School-Wide Vermicomposting Program
While coordinating a school-wide vermicomposting program is not necessarily easy, the Urban Worm Company can help implement a realistic, viable plan for vermicomposting pre-consumer food waste and other forms of organic waste within your school or university.
Bulk discounts on the Urban Worm Bag are available for multi-classroom vermicomposting efforts, but I can also help with more centralized composting and vermicomposting efforts, to include offering consultation and assistance with procuring commercial-scale equipment at reduced rates.
Step 5: Get in Touch!
I love learning more about efforts to promote vermicomposting in our schools. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to check in and say hi! (I’m also pretty good at writing press releases to get you some publicity too!)
Stop the Waste and Teach Multiple Subjects with Worms: A Win-Win for Classrooms
A tremendous amount of food waste is created in US schools, most of which will enter the waste stream and accumulate in landfills where it will decompose and produce harmful methane gas.
Nearly 70% of this waste could be composted and/or vermicomposted on site! While many schools feature composting programs, space limitations, zoning requirements, and valid concerns about odor and pest management prevent large-scale composting programs.
While individual classes cannot be expected to bear the burden of recycling food waste for the school, worm bins in the classroom are a highly effective and engaging way for students to become aware of how worms can efficiently recycle waste.
And great news for educators…..they are also an excellent hands-on laboratory for teaching math, science, environmental studies, even geography.
Teach earthworm anatomy and learn how food can travel through a worm’s digestive system. Your kids will be fascinated to learn that earthworms have 5 hearts, that all of them have male and female sexual organs, that they breathe through their skin, and that they are hatched from cocoons.
Vermicompost is full of life! Teach your students about fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and other microorganisms that are in short supply in our over-farmed soils.
Vermicomposters assume certain rules of thumb about how many worms can occupy a certain amount of surface area, how much waste the worms can process daily, and what percentage of food waste will end up as worm castings.
Armed with these assumptions, you can ask your kids to calculate how much food waste your worm bin will recycle, what amount of worm castings will be produced, how many worms could occupy a given area, and more.
Like other animals, some earthworms only exist in certain parts of the world. And some climates are better than others when it comes to supporting open-air vermicomposting. The practice of vermicomposting is also very prevalent in countries like India, Pakistan, and Cuba that lack manmade waste management infrastructure. Through the lens of vermicomposting, challenge your kids to learn more about other parts of the world!
Helpful Links and Resources
Until the full-on Urban Worm Company classroom vermicomposting syllabus gets up and running, please check out the following resources about composting and worm composting, geared specifically towards the classroom.