The fish tank experiment
The children at Froebel Alexandria were familiar with worm farms and decomposition as they already had a worm farm at the service. To extend and revisit the experience of setting up the worm farm, the educators discussed with the children what they can and can’t put in a worm farm. Educators collated the children’s responses about food items and what rubbish they produce. What leftovers and rubbish from the food we consume can be composted? To explore the process of decomposition, they set up a fish tank with three compartments: one for food scraps, one for plastic and one for paper. The children and educators regularly check on the content of the fish tank and discuss their observations.
An indoor wormery
Previously, the children had shown an interest in taking care of our worms in the worm farm so they replicated an indoor worm farm, a “wormery”, which the children set up in a giant glass jar and to which they added sand, soil, leaves and sticks, all collected in their immediate environment. Having the worms close by in a glass container allows the children to closely investigate the worms’ participation in the decomposing of food scraps.
What do worms like to eat?
The children are engaged in feeding the worms and frequently have discussions revolving around sustainability, particularly what types of food can go into the worm farm. The children enjoyed finding out that the worms liked their favourite fruit and vegetables too and were amazed that they could add items such as tissues and paper towels to the worm farm. Educators and children also discussed what can’t go into the worm farm. These discussions and observations fed into the decomposition experiment set up in the fish tank.
What exactly happens to plastic?
The fish tank experiment is ongoing and the children keep checking on the decomposition of the different materials. Interestingly, the children’s hypothesis is that the plastic will disappear first, before the food scraps and paper. Their ideas of what would happen to the plastic over time were:
- “It’ll fly away”
- “It will make something new”
- “It will turn into new stuff”
- “It will turn into paper.”
Educators reflected that these ideas show that the children may be unclear about the difference between composting and recycling so the fish tank experiment is an excellent starting point to explore the differences. The children also added some paper and sticky tape in the wormery and observed what happened to the different materials. After a few days, the children could see that the worms had chewed on the paper but not on the sticky tape.
Children and educators are enjoying their worm observations very much and these investigations have increased everyone’s interest in sustainable practices. The service has reached out to families to encourage parents to share their own sustainable practices at home, thus creating a community with a shared interest in raising environmental awareness.