Last year 13,770 pounds of KO’s dining hall food scraps were diverted for composting. But, that’s not good enough for the raising-the-bar Form 3 students who study earth and environmental science. One of the emphases of the curriculum is to enhance the student’s understanding of the human impact on the environment. By connecting the students to their own day-to-day activities i.e. leftover lunch food, this latest science project required the students to collaboratively problem solve and alter their own behaviors.
Student teams designed various composting ideas and pitched their ideas to a panel of teachers and administrators. Their presentations began with an explanation of the process of composting which is using the organic waste of carbon-rich browns or nitrogen-rich greens to improve the soil quality. Currently, 90% of food scraps go into landfills which create methane gas, a harmful greenhouse gas whose heat-trapping effects are even stronger than carbon dioxide.
Many of the concepts involved setting up stations in the dining hall to sort the materials into those for composting, recycling and landfill. The composting bins would be located behind the lunchroom so that they are easily accessible to the community garden. The students constructed models and priced out the materials needed for their composting bins, including worms which help to accelerate the decomposition process. The composting soil would be used in the Red KOw Farm that supplies many of the vegetables and herbs used by Sage Dining.
The first part of the project involved students performing their own composting experiments in liter plastic bottles. They observed how different variables impacted the composting process: rotating often versus rotating infrequently, using five versus ten worms or using highly processed foods versus processed foods.
A key factor in the success of the composting project is getting the buy-in from the students. Ideally, Form 3 students would manage the process, monitor the collection of the scraps and rotate the scraps weekly. Based on the judges' assessment of the presentations, one of the student-designed ideas will be utilized at the school. By giving the students the tools to be empowered, they can change our little slice of the world one piece of bread crust at a time.
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.