Rubbish Composting

Overview: Compost is made from the breaking down of organic (natural) material. It is not the same as rotting. Leaves, uncooked food waste and cardboard can be broken down by bacteria and worms in order to produce nutrient-rich soil for plants to grow. Air is needed as the bacteria and worms need oxygen. Rotting which doesn’t need oxygen doesn’t provide the same nutrients or soil structure.

Task: You are to produce compost as quickly as possible

Equipment Provided: Plastic containers, cardboard, soil, uncooked food or garden waste.

Health and Safety: You must carry out your own risk assessment (Rubbish Science accept no liability)  Note: Wash hands carefully after handling waste and compost. Be aware that compost bins can attract mice and rats.

Things you might need to know / Questions you might ask:

  • What is the difference between composting and rotting?
  • What are the best conditions for composting to occur?
  • What are the best materials to use to make compost?
  • Is animal dung useful?
  • What order should these materials be stacked in?
  • What size compost bin works best?
  • Should the materials be disturbed eg some compost bins can be turned upside down regularly?

Prototyping: Try to answer the questions above using small scale experiments

Modifications: How might you modify your designs based on what your preliminary results look like? What have others done and what can you learn from them?

Prediction: What do you think will happen and why?

Do it: How are you going to find what method works best? How will you record your results?

What happened?: Was your composter effective?

Tell Someone: Explain what you did and why you felt your composting was effective. Listen to others do they have any good ideas?

What did you learn? What do you know now that you didn’t know before you started this investigation?

Extension/Modify/Do it again: How could you extend this to produce more compost, more quickly?

Possible Model – How can you optimise the design?