The sample lessons below have been adapted from the Cornell Waste Management Institute. They are intended to give you an idea of how you can use Rolypig to teach your students about the benefits of composting.
Over half of our waste stream is organic material that could be composted. Compost is a valuable resource for lawns and gardens. By composting, we save space in landfills and turn waste into a product that can improve soil and increase its water-holding capacity.
Composting is a natural process that occurs with or without our help. In nature the process continues independently, but since we generate so much organic waste, in densely populated areas we need to speed up the process. Many people have compost piles in their own backyards Where that is not possible, community composting areas provide a good alternative.
If you would like more ideas, please contact rolypigusa.com or call 978.356.0196.
What makes Rolypig special for educators?
Rolpig is cute and easy to use. Your students will enjoy feeding Rolypig as they learn about composting organisms.
Rolypig is made in such a way that pests won't enter and smells are greatly decreased.
Rolypig is continuous. You can check on the progress of the compost at anytime. You can feed Rolypig at anytime.
Rolypig can be easily moved and does not require much space. You can keep him on a mat. Roll him and move him back onto the mat.
Rolypig is durable and will be with you for many years. He has a five year warranty and with care should be with you for years beyond that.
Sample Lesson One:
Discover Composting Organisms
(Adapted from Composting: Waste to Resources, Cornell Waste Management Institute)
GRADE LEVELS: K-3
SUBJECT AREAS: science
CONCEPT: What makes composting work?
OBJECTIVE: To expose students to some of the organisms that carry out decomposition.
MATERIALS: fresh sample of compost, glass slide or petri dish, hand lens or microscope, paper, pencil
KEYWORDS: bacteria, fungi, decompose
BACKGROUND: The insects, worms, bacteria, and fungi found in your compost pile do the work of making compost. You can see some soil animals with the naked eye, and for some you will need a hand lens or microscope. These organisms are some of the decomposers that fit into the cycle of life.
Cycle of Life
Primary Consumers (Sheep)
Secondary Consumers (Wolf)
Decomposers (Insects, Fungi)
PROCEDURE: Put a small compost sample on a glass slide with a drop of water. Observe the sample under a hand lens or microscope. If you don't see live organisms, take a fresh sample from the compost. Draw pictures of what you see.
Option: Try to identify organisms with a field guide.
FOLLOW-UP: Begin feeding Rolypig with organic waste from the childrens' lunches. Avoid dairy and meat products. Every few weeks, take samples from Rolypig and observe with hand lens or microscope. Draw pictures of what you see.
Discuss what would happen in the world if there were no decomposers. What would happen to leaves in the fall, or to dead trees in the forest? (Decomposers are the recyclers of the natural world. They break down organic matter and turn it into materials that can once again be used to support life. That is why compost contains many nutrients that help plants to grow. Without decomposers, we would all be buried in wastes!
Sample Lesson Two:
What Is Biodegradable?
(Adapted from Recycle Alaska Activities Handbook,
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Juneau , AK )
GRADE LEVELS: 4-6
SUBJECT AREAS: science
CONCEPT: Some materials decompose when buried; others do not. Microorganisms play a vital role in the decomposition process.
OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to differentiate between the kinds of material that nature recycles and those it does not.
BACKGROUND: Decomposition occurs everywhere. If everything existed forever, we would be buried in our waste. Our waste products are varied: some are made of easily degradable materials while others will last for thousands of years.
Display a piece of glass, paper, metal, plastic, and food. Ask the class to predict which of these substances are biodegradable (capable of rotting or decomposing)? Conduct the following experiment to determine whether their predictions were correct.
Dig enough soil from a garden or vacant lot to fill five containers. (One pound cottage cheese containers would be suitable.) Fill five of the containers half full with soil, and the other five half full with sterile potting mix. Place a piece of each type of waste into each container. Continue filling the containers with soil or sterile mix, whichever they already contain. Add enough water to all pots so that the soil or sterile mix is damp but not wet to the touch. Cover the containers. Label the containers to indicate the type of waste and whether it contains soil or sterile mix.
After one week, examine the waste in each container. Which wastes are decomposing? Cover the wastes again, and continue to check them once a week for as long as you want. Record your observations.
Check the original predictions and draw conclusions about which substances are biodegradable and under what conditions.
Make a schedule for the students for regular feeding of Rolypig. This lesson will work best if students measure and weigh how much is fed to Rolypig each day. Feed Rolypig organic waste and avoid dairy and meat products. The compost will cook best if equal amounts of grass clippings or leaves are added with the food waste.
When first section of Rolypig is full ( 2-3 weeks) tally up the size and weight of the food which filled the first section. Roll Rolypig onto two sides and a little more to move the waste into his second section. Continue feeding Rolypig until the first section is full. Roll Rolypig onto the next two sides and a little more to move the waste again. Repeat until you have moved the waste into the rear bucket (last section).
Take out the rear bucket and measure and weigh the compost. Compare your results with the size and weight of the original tally which filled the first section.
What has happened? If we all composted, how would this affect our landfills?
Name: _____________________ Date experiment started: ________
Fill in the following table each time you check your pots. Under "Waste", write the name of the item that you buried in the pot. Under "Compost", describe the condition of the item buried in compost each time you check it. Include such things as how decomposed the item looks, what color it is, whether or not you see fungi (spots or thin strands) on it. Under "Sterile Mix", describe in the same way the condition of the item buried in the sterile mix.
Date: _______________ Time since waste was buried: _____________
Which items decomposed most quickly?
Which items didn't decompose to all?
In general, did items decompose more quickly in compost or in sterile mix? Why do you think this is true?
Sample Lesson Three:
Best Ever Compost
(Adapted from Composting: Waste to Resources,
Cornell Waste Management Institute)
GRADE LEVELS: 4-6
SUBJECT AREAS: science, technology
CONCEPT: Composting turns organic wastes into a valuable product.
OBJECTIVE: To learn about composting.
Add a mixture of some or all of the following ingredients:
-vegetable peels and seeds
-fruit peels and seeds
-any other vegetable or fruit scraps
Note: Do not add meat scraps, bones, dairy products, oil, or fat. They may attract pest animals.
Yard or Garden Compost
Add a mixture of some or all of the following ingredients:
- hay or straw
- grass clippings
- wood chips
- weeds and other garden waste
- shredded paper
KEYWORDS: compost, biodegradation
BACKGROUND: Composting is nature's way of recycling. Decomposition will occur whether we help it or not. But since we produce so much waste we get paid back when we help to speed up the composting process. Composted material improves our gardens.
Composting is like baking a cake. Simply add the ingredients, stir, "bake," and out comes -- compost!
Whether you compost kitchen wastes or yard and garden wastes, there are a few basic steps to follow. Here are the necessary ingredients and general directions for composting.
1. Begin feeding kitchen or yard wastes into the composting bin. Chop or shred the organic materials if you want them to compost quickly.
2. Feed some soil or "already done" compost to Rolypig. This contains the microorganisms and soil animals that do the work of making the compost. It also adds moisture.
3. Adjust the moisture in Rolypig. Add dry straw or sawdust to soggy materials, or add water to compost which is too dry. The materials should be damp to the touch, but not wet that drops come out when you squeeze it.
4. Allow Rolypig to digest ("bake"). When Rolypig's
first section is full, roll Rolypig onto two sides and just a little more to move the waste into the next section.
6. Re peat the rolling each time the first section is full. Generally, it takes 2-3 weeks to fill the first section given the kitchen waste produced by the average family of four.
7. When the first section has been filled for the fourth time (9-12 weeks), take out the rear bucket. If it is done, it should look like dark crumbly soil mixed with small pieces of organic material. It should have a sweet, earthly smell. If it is not done to your satisfaction, feed it to Rolypig again for better digestion.
8. When you are satisfied with the compost, feed compost to hungry plants by mixing it with the soil.
Try growing a few beans or other seeds in pots, some filled with sand and others filled with a mixture of sand and compost. Compare how well the seedlings grow. Discuss the plants' need for nutrients and water. Sand is a poor nutrient source and does not store water. When compost is mixed in, both of these needs are better met. Gardeners can similarly enrich their gardens using compost.
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