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“Worming” into Environmental Friendliness

June, 2008
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Have you ever thought a nasty-looking worm could play a role in children’s education?

At the Family Learning House SOHO campus, children learn about environmental protection by feeding worms with school-life waste and then using the worms to create a small compost system that supplies fertilizer for the school garden.

   compost 008Such a system, called “vermicompost,” employs a box where worms, supplied by a farm in Shunyi, and grass are put together. The worm waste and grass will together form fertilizer. The children were involved in every step of the vermicompost’s creation and upkeep.

Children in the two primary classes of the SOHO campus, aged 3 to 6, are all participating: they feed the worms each day, take out the fertilizer generated in the box, and then put the fertilizer onto several mini-vegetable crops in the school garden.

The practice is part of the school’s Green Project, which was initiated this spring and aims to create children’s love and responsibility for their surroundings, promote environmental awareness and eco-friendliness among the children, and teach them to be proactive about protecting the environment as a school.

Marc Lee, assistant to the school principal, said the important thing is for children to be aware that they are connected to their environment. “They feed the worms with anything organic – waste paper, waste food, etc, the worms help generate fertilizer, the fertilizer is used for the garden, and in the garden there are vegetable crops planted, cared [for] and will be harvest[ed] by the children, thus creating food again for themselves…”

"If this practice goes well, the school will consider a bigger system in the future, as some of the parents have already offered to contribute,” said Marc.

"The Family Learning House is a virtues-based school, and we see environmental education as part of cultivating the virtue of respect for our world and the importance of taking responsibility for our actions,” said school teacher Zaynab Olin Twaddell, who is helping implement the Green Project.

According to Zaynab, the children experience environmental education in their daily work in the Montessori classroom and are given the opportunity to practice responsibility in many ways, such as turning off the tap after they wash their hands, using recycled paper when doing art projects and knowing how to turn on and off a light when needed. compost 005

In addition, the children are taking care of some indoor plants, fish, turtles and other living things. They are also encouraged to avoid using plastic bags and disposable cups and utensils.

As such environmental issues become an inherent part of their school life, the children tend to pay attention to the state of the world and their own vital role in preserving its beauty and natural resources.

Recently, two of the children brought books to share with the class regarding environmental issues. One book is about worms and how important they are for preserving the ecosystem, and the other is a bilingual flip-book with great pictures of a vermicompost and garden patches. Both books immediately became a favorite among all the children.

"I feel that the children’s hands-on experience, both inside and outside the classroom, fuels their interest and understanding of the concepts in the books and other materials. I also think it is wonderful and praiseworthy that the parents are already icompost 003nvolved in finding/purchasing such books and helping us create a culture of environmental awareness at the school,” said Zaynab.

 To create an environmentally friendly atmosphere in the school as a whole, staff at the Family Learning House are taking a series of actions.

For example, they are using less paper. The school has stopped sending hard copy letters to parents and uses emails instead. When paper must be used, the staff try to use both sides and preserve the used paper for recycling.

 "Whenever we want our children to learn something, we must look first at our own actions as adults and do our best to create an environment that truthfully reflects what is being learned. And I have no doubt that the children who participate in the daily life of the school will take away with them a deeper respect for our earth and its inhabitants, and joyfully undertake the part they have to play in it’s delicate and wondrous system,” said Zaynab.

By Qin Chuan

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  1. Queen Wang
    May 19th, 2009 at 23:43 | #1

    This is very interesting way to promote environmental awareness among children! Congratulations!!

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