Worm Farm by Kevin
I love trash! Yep, you read it right. I've been fascinated with garbage since I was really little. I want to put an end to landfills and make it easier for people to recycle. How? Worms! I've been studying the ways worms decompose organic waste. Researchers at UCLA even called me to hear all about my project! How can worms help us with our garbage?
What did we do?
If you throw away your leftovers, they sit in a landfill for years and years. If you feed leftovers to a worm farm, they are recycled into fertilized soil for gardens. I experimented with 2,000 red wiggler worms. These composting worms recycled my family's leftover fruits and veggies for a few months. I weighed our leftovers each day, put that amount in my computer journal and then threw the leftovers into my worm farm. I recorded the amounts everyday and kept track of how many days it took for the leftovers to disappear.
What did we find out?
I found out that composting worms eat about half of their own body weight every day. When I put food waste in on Monday, it was gone by Wednesday. Well, it wasn't really "gone", it was "recycled". So my two pounds of worms ate one pound of waste every day! That's a lot of garbage! And, what's really cool, is that the worms double their population every few months. Now, 15,000 worms live in my farm. That means I can return some to the garden and still have enough to keep composting.
- Build your own worm farm! Order one pound of composting worms through the Internet. You can also order a worm house or make one yourself out of a large fish aquarium from a pet store. Install drainage holes on the bottom and air holes in the top. Buy some potting soil from a garden store and add to your house. Add about 1,000 worms, which will arrive in the mail. Keep your worms in the shade; too much sun will kill them. Feed and water them regularly. Record the amount of food you put into your worm farm and how long it takes to decompose.
- Try other experiments with your worm farm. Unplug the drainage hole and collect the worm urine. It's an excellent plant fertilizer. For 30 days, grow one plant with only regular soil and one plant with soil and worm urine. Draw or take photos of the plants' growth. Which one grew the fastest? Which one looks the healthiest?
- What other options, besides animals, help recycle food or paper in your school? What programs could you start to reduce waste?
- Use this life science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!