Charlotte students use new digester facility to study composting - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Charlotte students use new digester facility to study composting

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There are lofty goals inside this shed at Charlotte Central School.

"I just like the fact that we are sort of saving the environment and just helping the world," says 6th grader Seth Boffa.

"I like that it keeps a lot of food scraps out of the landfill," says 6th grader Morgan Poquette.

That help is now coming year-round thanks to the new structure and leftovers from lunch.

"Mac and cheese, pizza, bagels, salad," Boffa says.

The school's 50 sixth graders are taking turns heading out to the compost station every week.

"We put the three buckets of food scraps in and kind of like blanket it with leaves and then blanket it with sawdust," says 6th grader Cooper Whalen.

The activity is closely tied to classroom learning with each of the kids collecting stats on what's headed for compost and how it's changing.

"I learned that thousands of micro-organisms decompose it and you have to have the right ingredients to put in it," says Poquette.

Science teacher Christa Duthie-Fox says the permanent structure, built with donations and volunteers, is allowing her to formally include the earth-friendly activities into her curriculum.

"That is where the authentic learning happens," she says.

The longtime educator says the facility is reinforcing Vermont's next generation science standards that focus on hands-on activities, critical thinking and problem solving.

"If you can have a project-based educational system what happens is the kids are integrating the math, the science, the language arts," she says.

Duthie-Fox says from getting the shed off the ground to keeping it up and running, it wouldn't be possible without help.

Abby Foulk is a retired school librarian who comes to campus every week to oversee the composting, teaching kids about food systems and ecology. She says the structure has helped the school turn a casual green hobby into a fully-functioning operation.

"It is a bit of a game changer because instead of composting the food scraps that you collect or other organics that you collect, instead of sending it away, through hauling which is a distance away to municipal composting, they're getting to see the process right on sight," Foulk says.

A process that's changing the way these young people see the world, and their leftovers, and is inspiring them to inspire others beyond school grounds.

"I would rather help the world than sit on my butt inside in class," Boffa says. "Try and compost yourself because it would help the environment even more than we are here."

The school is on track to compost 1.5 tons of material this year.

The school is using the compost on its cafeteria garden. Waste management experts say the school is composting enough to save about $300 a year.

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