Investigating Composting

Earth ecoSTEM Kit Materials Used: See-through Composter, Tumbling Composter, & Pocket Scale

ENGAGE - Students Observe This Phenomenon


GATHER Energy Investigations


graphic organizer summarizing learning process of this activity

EXPLORE a Kit-Supported Learning Experience

Students will design and conduct investigations using the (included) See-Through Composter, thermometers, and scale to compare effect of  type of material, type soils, moisture, air, or temperature on decomposition rate.

How Long until Its Decomposed in the Ocean?

How Long Does Trash Really Last?

What Happens to Trash in a Landfill?



Students should be able to describe parts of the decomposition process including actions by animals, fungi, bacteria and invertebrates. Decay includes loss of fluids, breakdown of matter into smaller parts, and breaking apart of molecules so that nutrients are released and available for reuse by living organisms. Students should be able to explain that different waste materials break down at different rates, and that temperature and exposure to air also affect the speed of decay.


Students will use the (included) tumbling composter to establish a compost protocol for the class, grade level or school; educate others about what is compostable; add other types of “browns” and greens as needed to balance the materials and optimize compost.



After making sense of a core idea by engaging in science or engineering practices through the lens of crosscutting concepts, students revise their original explanations of a phenomenon.


Students may propose solutions and choose a project to do, such as setting up a grade-level lunch composting program.