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Digging Deep: Exploring the Compost Pile


Students watch a short video which shows the cycle of how worms turn scrap food into soil. Students learn how to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment-- and the vital importance of the critters that keep our soils healthy.



Printable Materials

Digging Deep Lesson Plan (PDF)


What is transfer of energy?

What else is transferred along with energy when plant waste and manure are transferred into soil by worms? (answer: nutrients)

Create a food chain beginning with the components covered in this video and concluding with a secondary consumer. Be sure to include a producer and a primary consumer.

How do these food chains combine into a food web?


Science and Engineering Practices Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 3-5 builds on K-2 models and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions. Develop a model to describe phenomena.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

The food of almost any kind of animal can be traced back to plants. Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food or other animals eat the animals that eat plants. Some organisms, such as fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms (both plants or plant parts and animals) and therefore operate as “decomposers.” Decomposition eventually restores (recycles) some materials back to the soil. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met. A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species can damage the balance of an ecosystem.

LS2.B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems

Matter cycles between the air and soil and among plants, animals and microbes as these organisms live and die. Organisms obtain gases, and water, from the environment, and release waste matter (gas, liquid, or solid) back into the environment. 

Crosscutting Concepts Systems and System Models

A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.