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Public Works

School Composting

Metro Beautification & Environment Commission supports Metro Nashville Davidson County area school composting efforts with education programs, compost bins and a loaner worm bin program. Composting and worm bins are fascinating ways to observe the process of decomposition first hand. Students are able to observe their food and yard waste as it is processed by nature's recycling crew: worms, Roly poly bugs, and other tiny decomposers.

Interested in composting at your school? Apply online for a compost bin or a worm bin loaner kit

Earth machine composterHow can my school participate?

Compost Bins for science education and school gardens

  • WHAT: Davidson County public and private schools may apply for a compost bin. The Earth Machine compost bin comes with instructions. The bin is open to the ground to allow worms and other decomposers to enter the bin and decompose yard and food waste and has a screw-on, tight fitting lid.
  • HOW: Your class can compost just leaves and garden clippings, and they can add the fruit and vegetable remains from their lunches and watch it all change into mulch over a period of time.
  • WHY: Students will have a first hand view of decomposition at work and will learn about this natural form of waste disposal and reclining.

Compost Bin Application (PDF)
Compost Bin Application (Word)

Worm Bin Loaner ProgramLoaner worm bins in a wagon

  • WHAT: Davidson County public and private schools may apply for a loaner worm bin to use in the classroom. The worm bin comes with instructions, a care chart so you know what to do and when to do it, a book about worms for your students to read, and a little red wagon to conveniently and attractively store and transport the worm bin.
  • HOW: Worm bins are easy to maintain: just add moist shredded newspaper; a banana peel, apple core and coffee grounds, and watch the worms eat the garbage!
  • WHY: Students will have a first hand view of decomposers at work and will learn about this natural form of waste disposal. Students have the opportunity to take the worm bin to other classes and make presentations about the worms - an innovative way to motivate students to practice public speaking skills.

Loaner Worm Bin Application (PDF)
Loaner Worm Bin Application (Word)

What schools are doing with their compost bins:

2008/09 School Year Projects

  • At Lockeland Design Center Elementary School, students in grades K-4 started composting their lunch waste on August 22, 2008 using an Earth Machine Compost Bin. Temperature reading on August 28 was 140 degrees F! Photos of Lockeland students composting
  • 110 fourth grade students at Ruby Major Elementary School will use an Earth Machine compost bin in conjunction with our curriculum: Students in the 4th grade do an in depth study of Land and Water in Science. A compost bin will help students see how soil is formed in a real-life hands-on way. The bin will be used in conjunction with the students helping to maintain the school's new Tennessee Courtyard which will contain multiple gardens. The bin will also be used in the students' studies of Nutrition later in the year.
  • We are doing health, garden and environment projects at H. G. Hill Middle School. There will be about 133 seventh graders participating.
  • Nashville School of the Arts environmental science classes will be conducting experiments using the Green Cone Digester.

2007/08 School Year Projects Using the Earth Machine Compost Bins

  • The Learning Sciences Institute at Vanderbilt University received Earth Machine Compost Bins, compost thermometers and kitchen compost collection buckets to use with their partnership with Carter Lawrence Elementary School and Rose Park Middle Magnet School for math and science education. The bins were observed by several classes of students and will used for observations and classroom experiments. Carter-Lawrence Elementary students used 2 compost bins, 2 thermometers and 4 kitchen compost collection buckets to collect and compost their own lunch waste; Rose Park students used 4 compost bins, 3 thermometers and 3 kitchen collector buckets to compost their lunch waste.
  • Eakin Elementary School is using two Earth Machines for 2nd grade classes to use in conjunction with their Soil Unit Kit. The students are composting their lunch waste.
  • Belmont University Environmental Science Class conducted experiments using 2 Earth Machine Compost Bins. Their results are being used in presentations for the Master Composter Class other community presentations about backyard composting. The experiment in action

How schools are using the loaner worm bins

  • At Margaret Allen Middle School, 250 5th & 6th graders will borrow the worm bin in January & February 2009 to student their earth and communities and will present their project at their school science fair!
  • Napier Elementary: Jane Gough's first grade class hosted the worm bin for the June 2007 session. Here's what students said about the experience: I don't want the worms to leave! We liked to feed the worms. We liked the worms because they wiggled in our hands. They dropped castings and ate our banana peels from breakfast.
  • Buena Visa Elementary: Anne Turner hosted the worms in the library for the June 2007 session. This was the perfect project for our kids. They learned all about worms, how they moved and what they ate.
  • McKissack Middle School students in the Life Skills class hosted the worm bin during the Spring 2007 semester. Students learned all about the worms. The worm book was one student's favorite book; she read it every day. The students made presentations about the worm bin to two classes and even surprised a visiting presenter, Garbage Gus, with a presentation on worms for his staff!
  • At Cockrill Elementary School, 3rd grade students used the worm bin to enhance their reading of How to Eat Fried Worms, a required reading book for MNPS.