Educational Compost Challenge

Educational Compost Challenge

Challenge Background:

Teaching students about composting is a sustainable practice that can help them understand how biological environments utilize chemical reactions so that they can recover and thrive.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, "compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow,". This material is generally categorized in three categories: browns, greens, and water.

Browns are dead materials which can generally be collected from one's own yard maintenance. This can include dead leaves, twigs, and more. Greens are materials that are still ripe or biological materials that have only recently been rendered useless by an individual, such as lawn clippings, discarded fruits and vegetables, or coffee grounds. Water is what combines these materials together, making them viable for your garden.

If you would like more information regarding the biological and chemical reactions that are necessary for compost to become viable for higher order thinking projects, click here for more information.

Compost Experiment

Materials Needed:

  • 2 liter bottle
  • soil and/or fertilizer
  • discarded food scraps
  • paper scraps
  • exacto knife


  1. Clean out your 2 liter bottle well with warm water.
  2. Use your cutting tool to make an incision into the 2 liter bottle so that the top third acts as a hinged cover.
  3. Put a small layer of dirt to cover the bottom of the bottle.
  4. As the challenge goes, alternate layers of discarded food or paper scraps with dirt until you have filled the bottle. For each layer, give it a light spritz of water.

Extended Challenge:

Use variables to test which makes the most nutritious compost by switching ratios or ingredients in your compost 2 liters. You could also test to see which environment composts the material fastest or how other variables (earthworms, fertilizer, etc.) affect the compost material.

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