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The Poop on Composting


Author(s)

Teresa C. Weglarz
Biological Sciences
University of Wisconsin—Fox Valley
teresa.weglarz@uwc.edu

Abstract

This interrupted case study tells the story of Miles, a freshman in college, who volunteers to help with the composting program on campus. Miles is excited about composting but his mother is hesitant to try it at home. Miles learns about the key ingredients for successful composting and his mother eventually begins to see its value. The case is presented in four parts, and can be used with or without the PowerPoint presentation and associated clicker questions (see Supplemental Materials). First, students are asked to analyze waste that they generate at home and identify any material that is compostable. Next, students explore the science of composting. Finally, students explore the topic of human manure to consider composting to the extreme. The case was designed for an environmental science course for non-majors; no prerequisite knowledge is assumed or required.


Objectives

  • Identify compostable materials.
  • List the key ingredients needed for composting.
  • Explain why aeration is important in composting.
  • Describe the biogeochemical cycles for carbon, phosphorous and nitrogen.
  • Explain the biological processes of decomposition in terms of chemical reactions.
  • Discuss the value of compost.

Keywords

Composting; decomposition; carbon cycle; nitrogen cycle; phosphorous cycle; waste; recycling; humanure; manure, toilet

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type Methods

Clicker, Discussion, Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Ecology  |   Environmental Science  |   Natural Resource Management  |   Agriculture  |   Science (General)  |  


Date Posted

12/12/2016

Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Supplemental Materials

The PowerPoint presentation “The Science of Composting” is intended for use with Part II of the case study.

 


  composting.pptx

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

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