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Fortuna Students Learn Worm Composting E-mail
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Sunday, 25 February 2007

Fortuna Students Learn Worm Composting

The Times-Standard

By Sara Watson


FORTUNA -- “Wormy” is a popular name for a worm. So's “Bob,” said Allison Poklemba.

At least two of the students in Michael Kauffmann's fifth-grade class at Fortuna Middle School chose to name their worms “Bob.” Other names were “Wiggler,” “Squirmy” and “Extreme.”

Tana Benbow named her worm “Velma.”

“I don't even know if it's a boy or a girl,” she said.

Kauffmann's class received a lesson on vermicomposting from the Arcata and Eureka community recycling centers' education program. Poklemba, the recycling centers' education coordinator, and education specialist Jenny Weiss visit classrooms throughout the county, teaching lessons on recycling, composting and related subjects.

Kauffmann said it's a great way for his students to learn about the importance of waste reduction. The program is free, and Poklemba and Weiss are “quality teachers,” Kauffmann said.

”I used to have a (compost) bin in the room, but it became a fruit fly problem,” he said.

Poklemba explained that worms like to eat organic material -- material that used to be alive. Students experimented by placing their worms near apple pieces, oatmeal and shredded paper. Worms were interested in all three, the students found.

They also experimented with moisture and light, and found that worms prefer dark, moist places. Poklemba said compost bins that meet these qualifications are good environments for worms.

Worms excrete a soil-like material, so good for gardens “that it is called black gold,” she said.

The worms the students handled were called red wigglers, but Poklemba also spoke about other types of worms. One type of earthworm that lives in Australia gets to be more than 13 feet long, she said.

Kauffmann said students were initially “grossed out” when told they'd be handling worms in class, but over time they got more excited about it.
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