Curricular Unit: Dig it! Composting Analysis with Temperature Sensors

Contributed by: Kansas State University, Computing and Information Systems Department, National Science Foundation GK12 INSIGHT Program

Prepared for

*Grade: 6 (5-7)

Time Required

Please see individual lessons and activities. Generally, the unit can span much of the school year with composting starting in the Fall and analysis and evaluation continuing in the Spring.


This sustainability unit focuses on composting analysis as a way to introduce a variety of science, math, ecology and biology lessons and activities.  Students evaluate several composting designs and determine which design is most effective.  Students get to work with sensors, data loggers, and measuring devices during the analysis and conduct a variety of engineering-related analysis skills such as data gathering, filtering and graphical analysis.  Along the way, several lessons and activities related to worms are also introduced.

*Engineering Connection

Engineers help address sustainability issues and work in a variety of ways to support the three Rs+C: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Composting. Engineers are crucial to designing waste reduction and waste management systems that are as effective, efficient, and cost-effective as possible.  Comprehensive waste management systems are likely to include composting as a way to take our biodegradable kitchen and plant waste and turn it into useful products such as natural fertilizer.  From selecting and applying technologies to determining the optimum characteristics of any particular technique, engineers can help us implement composting on an individual, school or  community-wide scale.  

Engineering Category

1.      Relating science and/or math concepts to engineering

2.      Engineering analysis or partial design

3.      Engineering design process

*Subject Area(s)

Life Science

Science and Technology


*Keywords: sustainability, recycle, reuse, compost, compost bins,  science, ecology, environment, trash, waste management, waste reduction, biodegrade, worms.

Educational Standards

Shawnee School District Grade 6 (2010) from Kansas Science Standards -

*Related Lessons

*Related Activities

Unit Overview (Return to Contents)

Overview of topics: (1)

Unit Schedule

See individual lessons and activities.

Summary Assessment

To evaluate the effectiveness of this unit, a pre-test is available that can be administered prior to beginning any of the activities or lessons.  The same test can be taken as a post-test, after completion of the unit activities and lessons, and the results compared to assess the learning progress.



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Denise Case, Kansas State University, Lucas Shivers and Lindsey Burch, Bluejacket Flint Elementary.


© 2012 by Kansas State University.

Permission granted for free use and distribution, conditioned upon inclusion of the above attribution and copyright notice.  This digital library content was developed by the Insight Program under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0948019. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

*Supporting Program

Kansas State University, Department of Computing and Information Sciences, National Science Foundation GK-12 INSIGHT Program