Some of the older students from the Salvation Army’s Ohio City Branch’s afterschool program on Clark Avenue are participating in a three-part science program this year. In the first part of the school year before the Christmas holiday the students received instruction in science from Case Western Reserve University staff. In the second half of the school year the students are journeying to the Fulton Branch of the Cleveland Public Library on Thursdays after school to participate in a weekly program run by the Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Service.
On Thursday, March 20th, OSU Extension Service instructor Jacqueline Kowalski engaged students in a lesson about composting. Each student was given three plastic see through plastic bags filled with topsoil. In the first bag they were asked to mash up a small tomato and some spinach into the topsoil. In the second bag students mixed into the topsoil some finely cut up pieces of newspaper and paper towels. In the third bag they placed cut up pieces of a Styrofoam cup.
Instructor Kowalski asked students to speculate on which bag of compost would break down earliest. She asked what material they thought would take the longest to break down. Would the paper towel or newspaper take longer to break down? Would the tomato seeds start to sprout in the compost bag?
Kowalski collected the students’ compost projects and promised to bring them back in a week so students could observe how the materials were breaking down.
Students then were asked to check cups on the window seal where they had planted seeds and watered them in previous classes. The students joyfully showed off the sprouts that were beginning to come up through the soil in their cups. Kowalski promised to bring some larger pots and some soil the next week so students can transplant their small plants into larger pots.
Kowalski says science curriculum (designed for ten weekly sessions) the students are studying is from the OSU Extension service. She says another session is planned for this summer when a retired teacher will teach an Ohio State University Extension science curriculum to the Salvation Army summer program students.