Whatís important about decomposition?
For a class of upper elementary level students, the answer lies in the schoolís urban orchard cultivated by the school community. There they study the decomposition process and observe its complex community. Learning how nature recycles from Internet research and local experts, young scientists record their findings in computer journals and share them with peer groups on-line and with younger students in school.

For more about this special from Virtual Urban Gardens e-mail Bill Ganter, author and AT&T Teacher Disseminator.
Learning Standards
  • Gather scientific information through observation and experimentation in the field.
  • Communicate results obtained by experimentation through journal writing and
    cooperative group discussions.
  • Share work with peers and the community through on-line communication and displays.
  • Classroom Activities
    Upper elementary level students:
    • Research and discuss decomposition.
    • Make a glossary of related vocabulary.
    • Observe decomposition outdoors.
    • Create a wall chart of the
      decomposition cycle.

    Students also prepare to take their second grade Growing Buddies on a field trip to the school orchard where they observe a decaying "nurse" tree. Both student groups review observations and record them into computer journals.
    Community Activities
    Upper elementary students and volunteers from a local urban gardening organization lead second graders on a field trip to the school's orchard to observer how nature recycles.
    As urban gardeners visit the classroom, students observe and interview them on how decomposition supports the food cycle.
    The Magic School Bus: Meets the Rot Squad, A Book about Decomposition , 1995: Scholastic; materials for charts, clipboards, hand held lense
    Using Microsoft Word and floppy disks for computer journals, students also access the Internet to research decomposition and share findings with e-pals.
    A class quiz evaluates student understanding of vocabulary and decomposition cycle. Teacher checks observations posted to each studentís computer journal and floppy disk.

    Web Sites
    Students research decomposition at