Fifth-grade teacher Andy Vitkus’s class is putting their food scraps to good use with the Worm Farm 360 project, which took place November 16. The class created a compost farm inside a enclosure made by a parent volunteer, located outside of the Student Union.
Vitkus was inspired to take on this project in Pine View after he did it with his class at his previous school, Booker Elementary School. According to Vitkus, he found that it was a great experience and a helpful teaching moment, and believed that it would have a similar effect on Pine View. “Instead of having more trash, we have useful planting compost. It’s cool, it’s helpful, it’s recycling.” Vitkus said.
The project was organized by parent volunteers and members of the Gardening Committee, and the worms and equipment were supplied by Green Leaf Worm farm. The head of Pine View School Gardening Committee for two years, Valerie Rupp, was one of the main organizers of the event. “Working with all ages is great. All of the grades have plots in the garden, and I enjoy assisting them with their work.” Rupp said. Rupp is also the parent of one of Vitkus’s fifth-grade students, Gryffin Tizes. “This [project] teaches the kids how worms break down organic material, and composting in general. The students will take what we make here and use it in the garden, making it sustainable. I think that it will be great for the garden, and the students as well.” Rupp said.
Leslie Turbeville, father of fifth-grade Tess Turbeville, constructed the enclosure that houses the farm itself. “They wanted me to build an enclosure to keep out vermin- compost attracts pests like rats and birds- so I measured the Worm Factory and built a gated enclosure at my home. I then brought it to Pine View and put it together where Dr. Covert wanted it, right outside the cafeteria. It’s there so students can put in food to compost, and advance recycling for the school.” Turbeville said. A former teacher himself, Turbeville said, “I think it’s a good idea. Anything that get students involved with science and hands-on learning is a good idea. The concept of teaching as a laboratory for learning is the best teaching device.”
The students enjoyed the project as well, and look forward to working more on it as the school year progresses. “It was very fun, especially holding the worms. I could tell that some people were grossed out but I enjoyed it.” Gryffin said. “I look forward to working with and feeding the worms throughout the school year.”
In the end, the first stage of the Worm Factory 360 project was overall successful. Mr. Vitkus’s class enjoyed themselves, and many students left their previous comfort zones.
“Some of the kids scream that they won’t touch it, but they are letting worms crawl up their arms by the end of the day. It’s just about getting over your fears!” Vitkus said.