Introduction to Worm Bin Project
- Grade level: Middle Elementary
- Subject Area: Science
Students observe the decomposing process of the food chain. Students observe whether the type of food fed to worms will affect the castings given off during the decomposition process. Note: This is a long-term activity; be prepared to devote a small amount of time to this activity each day or week for roughly two months.
- Students will observe the relationship between resources and output in an ecosystem.
- Students will learn to form and test scientific hypotheses.
- Students will learn to present data in multiple ways.
Materials and Resources Needed
- 5 worm bins (small containers, usually wooden, but also made from other materials), approximately 5"x5". Drill 6 holes in the bottom of each bin for drainage and odor control.
- Worms (usually red wigglers, but other types will work), can be found at sports stores and in vermicomposting catalogs
- Garbage--coffee grounds, vegetables, fruits, eggshells--collected by the students.
- Bedding, such as shredded newspaper
- A catch-all tray for drippings and escaping worms
- Black plastic bag to cover bins--provides moisture retention and dark environment that worms prefer
- ClarisWorks or other integrative software package that has graphing and word processing capabilities.
- Place dampened newspaper in each bin.
- Place one-fifth of the worms into each bin, keeping track of the exact number of worms in each bin.
- Add a certain kind of garbage to one corner of each bin. Label each bin so it is clear which type of garbage is to be added to that bin for the duration of the project. One bin should get eggshells, one coffee grounds, one vegetables, one fruits, and one a combination of all four of these.
- Cover the bins with the plastic bag.
- Check the bins each day and add food as needed. Try adding the food to each corner of the bin on a rotating basis; i.e.: one time, add food to the lower left corner, the next time to the lower right corner, etc.
- Weigh the amount and type of food the worms are fed and record the data in a graph created in ClarisWorks. The software should find the average amount of food fed weekly.
- Discuss the process of formulating hypotheses. Based on what is known about worms, worm castings, and the types of food, discuss the possible outcomes of this project.
- After two months, count the number of worms in each bin. Graph the number of worms fed each type of food.
- Use observations to test hypotheses formulated in the beginning of the project.
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