Does it Biodegrade?

Real life science experiments

As part of our biodiversity studies this month, G5 and G6 learned how insects, detritivores (such as worms) and microorganisms break down organic matter and are a hugely important part of all food webs in every ecosystem. We investigated human’s harmful impact on biodiversity and the environment in the form of pollution. The students learned that organisms can break down inorganic man-made material such as plastic, though it takes a very long time. After learning about how long various man-made materials like plastic take to decompose or biodegrade in soil, we decided to test them ourselves. We chose two organic and two inorganic items.

The organic items are a banana skin and a paper towel. The inorganic items are a thin plastic grocery bag and a plastic spoon.

On April 8th, six weeks after burying the items, the students will dig the items up to find out which has biodegraded, and which has not. Through this they will learn the of importance of microorganisms, detritivores (worms) and insects in the nutrient cycle on planet earth. They will also learn how fast organic items can biodegrade and become soil.

After making the labels for our biodegradability test the students were ready to get digging.

The students dug holes, placed the items into the holes and then covered them well with soil.

Our friend the worm makes an appearance! As a detritivore, an animal which feeds on dead organic material, he is very important for our experiment.

After the students were happy that everything was well covered, they returned to their classroom and wrote down the excavation date. Let’s see the results in April!

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