Growing Plants with Worm Castings
- Grade level: Middle Elementary
- Subject Area: Science
Students test the worm castings for content and use them to grow seeds. Students hypothesize which castings will best sustain seed growth. Students observe growing plants to test their hypotheses. Note: This is a long term activity; be prepared to devote a small amount of time to this activity each day for several months.
- Students will test the castings from the worm bins for content to help them make connections between the types of food and nutrient output.
- Students will hypothesize about the food worms are fed and the effect of the type of food on the makeup of the castings.
- Students will develop skills in graphically representing data by graphing and comparing the makeup of the castings.
- Students will develop skills in hypothesis testing by predicting which castings will best sustain seed growth.
Materials and Resources Needed
- Flower seeds
- 5 plant pots
- Plant food and water
- Potting soil, enough to fill 5 pots
- Soil testing kit or results from 4-H extension office about makeup of worm castings from Lesson 1
- Worm castings from Lesson 1
- Computer with modem and email software for each collaborative group
- ClarisWorks or other integrative software package that has graphing and word processing capabilities.
- Use the soil testing kit to determine the content (phosphorous, ph, nitrogen, and potassium) of the worm castings that came from the five different bins. Alternatively, have a 4-H extension office or advanced biology class test the castings to obtain this information. Research and discuss the importance of each of these to plant growth.
- Graph this information using ClarisWorks (students may need assistance).
- Add potting soil to each of the five pots. Label each of the pots so it is obvious which pots will contain which type of casting.
- Add worm castings to the pots; add castings from worms that were fed vegetables to one pot, castings from worms that were fed fruits to another pot, etc.
- Check the pots each day and feed and water as needed.
- Record the amount of food and water given to each pot.
- Observe plant growth; record and graph observations. You might want to chart growth by counting numbers of leaves, inches grown, etc.
- Collaborative groups may exchange data over email with the partner groups arranged in Lesson 2.
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