4.15.2016

What a week! First of all, a huge THANK YOU to the entire community for joining us for such a fun celebration and for your amazing secret keeping skills! Wow! We are in awe that this was genuinely a surprise for our sweet mama-to-be! Thank you for being a part of such a wonderful baby shower! Denisse was overwhelmed by love for all and truly touched.  A special thank you to Jennifer and Jess for their extra efforts in making the morning a success!  

Watch Denisse’s reaction … she had no idea!  Link here: Surprise!

It was a very busy week with lots of projects to further enrich our composting efforts.  To kick start the week, we set up several experiments to test some of the theories we have about compost.  One thing we have heard about compost is that vermicompost is one of the most nutritious fertilizers.  To test this idea we planted two lima bean seeds.  One was planted in our vermicompost, while the other was planted in dirt dug up from Packer’s garden.  We asked the question: Which plant will grow better, vermicompost or dirt?  We discussed that an important step in the scientific process is making a hypothesis or a guess.  Your children illustrated their ideas and dictated their predictions.  

Which plant will grow better vermicompost or dirt?

Alex: I think the [vermicompost] will turn this seed into a rose.

Steelo: The vermicompost will grow bigger and the dirt will grow smaller.

Ava: These are plants growing [in dirt], but these are flowers blooming [in vermicompost]!

Cate: I think vermicompost will turn into flowers and dirt will turn into leaves.

Asher: I think the dirt will grow bigger.

Pearl: The vermicompost is going to grow prettier and the dirt is gonna grow less pretty.

Ezra: My hypothesis is that the vermicompost will grow bigger.

Vivian: I drew it really high because my plant [in the vermicompost] will grow a lot. That’s my hypopasus.

Téa: I thought the compost was gonna grow better because it was pooped out by worms and it’s the best dirt there ever was.

Harper: I think the dirt will grow better because I use dirt at home for planting and my plants grow really big.

Lucia: I think vermicompost will grow bigger because ‘vermicompost’ is a longer word.

Arjun: I think they’re gonna grow both.

Carmen: The vermicompost will grow better because the earth will have more dirt and compost.

Emerson: The vermicompost will grow better because it’s healthier for plants.

Jalen: The vermicompost will grow better because the dirt is this big, but the vermicompost is THIS big.

Milo: The vermicompost will grow better because it’s healthier for plants.

Jake: I think the dirt will grow better puz the dirt is what persons usually one.

Charlotte: The vermicompost will grow better because we’ve worked harder on it.

Ruby: The vermicompost will, because it’s healthier for plants.

Elfie: The vermicompost will because it’s prettier to touch and healthier.

Harry: Well, every time I plant with vermicompost it only grows this big, but when I plant with dirt it grows SO big.

It has been so fun to watch your children and their excitement about their lima bean plants.  Everyday they have eagerly checked them for progress and provided them water for growth.  We have not seen any sprouts yet, but we’ve continuously reminded your children, scientists often have to be very patient! We’re hoping for some signs of growth next week!

Now that the Beavers are so invested in the importance of our service project, we wanted to investigate how knowledgeable the Packer community at large is about the benefits and accessibility of composting.  On Wednesday, we toured the Lower School in small groups to conduct a survey.  We stopped into classrooms and asked the questions:  Do you know what compost is?  Do you compost in your classroom?  And, Do you want to compost at school?  These classroom visits also provided an opportunity to dispel some common misconceptions about composting.  “It’s really not that hard!”, remarked Cate to one faculty member who doubted whether composting in her office would be feasible.  “It doesn’t even smell bad!”, exclaimed Milo and Charlotte.  Next week, we will review the results of our survey and determine what our next steps need to be!

Another fact we have learned is that 1lb of worms (about 1000 worms) can eat 3x their weight in food each week!!! While we certainly feed our worms throughout the week, we wanted to test whether or not we were collecting enough food for them.  The children hypothesized at the start of the week, and then everyday we have weighed our food collections.  Throughout the week the children would eagerly check the scale, commenting on the food scrap they had put in and how heavy they thought it would make our collection.  When we noticed some discrepancies in the weight of our food collections, the children discussed, debated and decided, our scale needed “recallibrating” (yes, they understood and used this word!) and ultimately, that they had broken our scale.  Eager Beavers aggressively pushing down on a scale is not good for a plastic piece of ___________.  🙂 Amazon Prime will hopefully have us back up and running on Monday! As of Wednesday we had collected just over 2.5lbs.   

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We created a collaborative mural of a compost bin over the course of the week.  Using paint, recyclables and magazine cuttings, the Beavers illustrated what the inside of a worm bin might look like.  Flipping through endless copies of Bon Appetit (it’s a teacher favorite!), the children cut out pictures of foods that were compostable.  They were so pleased with their efforts and we loved hearing their buzz as they worked.  

We had a fun-filled, educational trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. We began our trip with a lovely picnic lunch just outside the entrance.  After setting up some picnic blankets and gathering to enjoy our meal, the Beavers ran around, fully enjoying the beautiful spring weather.  We then entered the Garden and explored the Lily Pond and the Japanese Garden, relishing the opportunity to spend time outside amongst the flora and fauna. Spring was in the air as the Beavers observed koi in the koi pond, relaxed under the Japanese gazebo, and literally stopped to smell the flowers.  We then returned to the educational center at BBG, and gathered in a classroom to begin our composting workshop.  The Beavers had the opportunity to extend their expertise as Packer’s master composters with some of the biggest players in the field. The workshop was led by Claudia Navas, an instructor with the BBG’s Urban Gardener program.  We were also joined again by Lia Raz, a Master Composter for the city of New York, who visited our classroom last week. Claudia and Lia led an engaging workshop, describing the importance of composting and how composting can help our environment and local community.   The Beavers sorted images of what kinds of household materials are compostable (and what materials are not), and then got to work getting their hands into some compost bins!  We played with worms, explored some vermicompost, and helped to support the BBG’s own collection of worm bins by adding our food scraps from lunch. The workshop finished up with a trip to the BBG’s biggest compost site, where the Beavers saw a different composting process. Using natural decomposers such as insects and worms, as well as letting the compostable material “cook”, the BBG uses its compost to help keep the beautiful plants and flowers of the garden healthy and happy.  While we learned a lot, the Beavers often responded with a resounding; “We know that, already!” to many of the questions and explanations. Both the BBG educators and the parent volunteers, were super impressed by the depth of knowledge your Beavers possess.  The trip was a fantastic complement to our service project, and really solidified the Beavers’ position as master composters!  As a class, we feel inspired and prepared to continue our composting initiative.  
Thank you to all of our parent volunteers for helping make the day a success! Our trip to Brooklyn Botanic Garden wouldn’t have been possible without your extra sets of eyes, ears and hands….  One of the best parts of the experience for your teachers, was hearing the parent buzz and questions about the prospect of setting up home composting bins! Do the ROT thing!!! Until next week…

 

 

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