Driving Question

How can we create a healthy gardening ecosystem in the city?


In this unit, focusing on MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-3, students investigate matter and energy cycling through a vermicompost system and monitor the system using programmable sensor technologies. Students generate questions about food deserts and how to grow food in an urban setting where soil conditions are not ideal. Students use sensors to monitor environmental conditions inside worm compost bins with different conditions in order to determine which conditions produce compost that can be used for growing food. Students develop models to explain how matter and energy are changing, flowing, and cycling through the compost system as food scraps are converted into compost.

What Students Figure Out

By the end of the unit, students develop ideas about:

  • How matter and energy move and change forms within a system
  • How decomposers break down matter
  • How to measure and monitor environmental conditions in a closed system using sensor technologies
  • How to analyze and interpret data collected using sensor technologies to look for patterns
  • How to communicate information using student collected evidence about vermicomposting to propose a composting program

Targeted NGSS Performance Expectations:

  • MS-LS2-1: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
  • MS-LS2-2: Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on predicting consistent patterns of interactions in different ecosystems in terms of the relationships among and between organisms and abiotic components of ecosystems.]
  • MS-LS2-3: Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.

A graphic image of the Ecosystems Composting Storyline Summary is available: contact schoolwidelabes@colorado.edu