Seventh grade science students at Blanco Middle School have been busy learning about composting and the decay of organic materials. Since the spring break, students have collected and composted 247 pounds of organic waste generated at school. This includes cafeteria scraps, shredded paper, and a small amount of yard trimmings.
In the fall, the Science Department was awarded a recycling grant in the amount of three thousand dollars. The grant was awarded through Keep Texas Beautiful and made possible by the generous support of HEB. HEB provided the money through the “Green Bag” program. HEB shoppers can purchase reusable shopping bags at HEB, who then puts this money back into the community. The grant funded the purchase of four large compost tumblers and related supplies.
Seventh grade science teacher, Pam Meier, applied for the grant through our local affiliate, Keep Blanco Beautiful. Keep Blanco Beautiful has worked with the Middle School on numerous occasions. KBB sponsored two teachers at a summer workshop entitled, “School Recycling.” This training session was sponsored by The Capital Area Council of Governments. The goal of this workshop was to give teachers ideas, resources, and curriculum to develop or enhance their school recycling programs.
In November, on Texas Recycles Day, all students took a field trip to the Blanco recycling center. County commissioner Paul Granberg and KBB members met each group of students at the center and talked to them about recycling. Mr. Granberg informed the students of the materials accepted at our center and how the items need to be sorted. The students enjoyed watching the crusher/compactor machines in action. Keep Blanco Beautiful members were on hand to assist and pass out some free recycling-related materials. In addition, KBB members recently visited our school to give student council and NJHS members some advice on landscaping the front of our school. Members have agreed to return to school and assist with planting next fall.
This particular grant was written because this project had the potential to accomplish several goals. Obviously, we will be able to keep organic waste and valuable plant nutrients out of the landfill. In addition, we will be meeting one of the 7th grade science standards as outlined by the state in the new TEKS, which reads, “Students should demonstrate and explain the cycling of matter within living systems such as in the decay of biomass in a compost bin.” My students will have first-hand experience with this educational standard and they have thoroughly enjoyed doing so.
Science teacher Pam Meier said, “On a Saturday, after the project Graduation Fun Run, participants were eating oranges and bananas. A student approached me to say that we should be composting the fruit peelings. We grabbed a box and started collecting. At this point I felt the project was a success, because students were taking what they had learned and were applying it outside the classroom.”
HEB provided the funds to make this ongoing project possible. Due to the generous support from HEB, our students will be getting a hands-on approach to composting for years to come.