Make your own Worm Bin - presented at the Dell Family Earth Day

4/18/2018


On Earth Day, we are always reminded of how precious our natural resources are and how we are doing a poor job of being conscientious of these resources. Don’t let another Earth Day pass without trying your own indoor vermicompost bin. These bins can be used to create amazingly nutrient soil for your plants by feeding the worms scraps from dinner. However, they can also serve as a tool to help teach your inquisitive scientist at home how an ecosystem works. 


An ecosystem is simply a community with both inorganic and organic components that rely on each other. They have a dependent relationship with each other, a population of worms can only succeed if there is enough water to support their population, yet the amount of water they have in their ecosystem depends on the number of worms in it. By controlling an ecosystem of worms- providing food, water and shelter- you can reap the benefit­­s of knowledge or soil.


For more lessons on this topic, check out the four lessons of our 15 Minutes of STEM: Compost below.  


Lesson 1: What is Compostable?                        

Setup Time: 20 minutes
Materials: Food storage containers, water, Toilet paper, banana or other soft fruit, aluminum can tabs, water or soda bottle lid, dried up leaves. Optional, worksheet and magnifying glass
Lesson Time: 15 minutes
Clean Up Time and Materials: trash bag, paper towels, water; 3 minutes




Lesson 2: Setting up your Worm Bin
Setup Time: 30 minutes
Materials: plastic shoebox, some course dead materials, like twigs, torn up cardboard, etc., green compost such as left over salads or other vegetables, cut up fruit, grass clippings, etc, Brown compost such as shredded paper, dryer lent, wood chips (natural untreated wood only), dead leaves, etc, potting soil, spray bottle full of water, worms
Lesson Time: 15-20 minutes
Clean Up Time and Materials: Clorox wipes to clean off table where they worked. Small trashbag, place to store worm bins if youth are not taking them home; 10 minutes


Lesson 3: Feeding your Worms and Recycle Roundup
Setup Time: 20 minutes
Materials: extra greens and browns to feed your worms, worm bins, spray bottle, computer, lap top or tablet for every 2 kids, internet connection
Lesson Time: 15 minutes
Clean Up Time and Materials: Clorox wipes to clean off table where they worked. Small trashbag, place to store worm bins if youth are not taking them home, power down and store computers, laptops or tablets; 20 minutes


Lesson 4: The worm Bin Community
Setup Time: 20 minutes
Materials: their worm box, magnifying glass and some tweezers, gloves for kids that are afraid to touch dirt, copies of the worksheets
Lesson Time: 15 minutes
Clean Up Time and Materials: Clorox wipes to clean off table where they worked. Small trashbag, 10 minutes


BSA Requirements covered by this lesson
• Wolf Cub—Furs, Feathers and Ferns, Requirement 5
• Boy Scout—Sustainability Merit Badge, Requirement 4c.


TEKS Requirements covered by this lesson:
• 2nd grade Science: A (4c), B (1C), B (9&AC)4
• 3rd Grade Science :B(1B)
• 4th Grade Science : B (1A)
• 5th Grade Science: B(1A), B (9A)






Make your own seed balls - presented at the Round Rock Summer Enrichment Fair

2/24/2017


Although we do not live in a rainforest, it is still important to care for our native plants, insects and animals.  Two species that we are working hard to help are our local bees and butterflies.   One way to make help bees and butterflies, collectively called pollinators, is to plant local nectar wildflowers. 


A great way of spreading these seeds is to create seed balls.   There are a number of great recipes to make seed balls, but this is the simple recipe that we use when we are presenting at STEM Fairs. 


Making Seed Balls

     Materials

  •        Red Pottery Clay (I got mine from Armadillo Clay in Austin and then collected some local clay from the ranch we will be planting the seeds).
  •        Potting Soil or Worm Bin Soil.  (If your potting soil has much mulch or larger pieces, you may want shake it through a sifter).
  •        Water
  •        Local Seeds (There are great seed mixes from Native American Seed or Wildseed Farms. )
  •        Mixing bowls
  •        1/2 teaspoon    
  •       1 cup measuring cup, 1/2 cup measuring cup


     Instructions

  1.   In a mixing bowl, add 1 cup of shifted potting soil, 1 cup of red pottery clay dust and 1/2 cups of water. 
  2.  Mix until you can roll into ball.
  3.  Get 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture and make a flat circle about the size of a quarter.
  4.  Add 3-6 seeds to the middle and roll into ball. 
  5.  Set the seed ball out to dry at room temperature until dry (about 24 hours; putting them in front of a fan helps dry them)
  6. This mix will make about 100 seed balls.
  7.  Your seed balls are ready to spread after about 2 days.  They can also last for weeks or a year.
  8.  Either go out and spread your seed ball, or present them as gifts to your favorite gardener.


We will update with photos after the fair.


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