Earlier this year, a member of the community came through for The Learning Center! Charter School when she heard about an unusual request. Local masseuse and yoga teacher, Renee Lamance, owner of Soul Therapy Massage & Bodywork in Murphy, donated a worm bin for research needs. Second grade teachers Stephanie Hopper and Emily Willey then began an intriguing study unit involving worms that spaned several months and crossed the entire curriculum of the school.
“We have been exploring how important earthworms are to human life,” said Hopper. “The worm unit ties in reading, writing, language arts, math, agriculture, and environmental studies.” Students have been experimenting with vermiculture – the cultivation of earthworms and their by-products for composting.
Students used the donated worm bin to house the worms for study, conduct experiments, and make observations to learn the importance of worms to soil. They also created individual worm jars to observe earthworm anatomies and ecosystems, worm tunnels and soil churning.
Experiments included recycling food scraps and other organic materials to turn food waste into rich, organic nutrients used to grow plants. The students learned what worms can and cannot eat, how they eat, how to care for the red wiggler composting worms, change their bedding, and how to harvest the castings (worm excrement) to use for garden fertilizer.
The worm composting will be an on-going project in which the worms’ castings will be used to help fertilize the outdoor garden areas at The Learning Center.