New Rochelle Albert Leonard middle school students are digging soil, in a literal kind of way.
6th graders explored in We Future Cycle classroom sessions the connections between throwing food waste in the garbage and climate change. Learning about methane and leachate got their attention. Just thinking past the garbage can is eye opening for these students.
While New Rochelle’s entire student population is now sorting their lunch waste between Commingled Recycling, Food Waste and Trash, thus reducing trash by a whopping 97%, they have not quite learned what actually happens to the food waste.
In classroom presentations, student were walked through the chemical process of decomposition, they chuckled a bit when asked if the banana looks the same when it comes back out and they quickly got the concept of nutrients, water and energy being the basis for life.
Making connections between how the apple tree takes nutrients out of the ground to grow the apple, which in turn nourishes our body when we eat it, and how the left over still contains many nutrients that could benefit the soil if put back, but creates havoc if treated as garbage and dumped in a landfill, was a completely new line of thought to all students.
Students had the chance to dig through soil samples, seeing and touching the difference organic matter made in soil samples. They were tasked to make determination in terms of water retention capabilities, nutrient content and how plants might like to grow in that particular soil. Social Studies questions were introduced for students to think about how a the quality of soil might affect the wealth of a country.
What started out with students looking somewhat puzzled at three soil samples on their desk, ended in some fabulous essays about why composting is so important to the survival of our world. Great job Albert Leonard students.