Falmouth 6th-graders present composting effort at N.H. summit

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FALMOUTH — Sixth-grader Marie Baker scrunched her nose as she walked into the small greenhouse beside Falmouth Middle School. An acrid smell filled the air as she and her classmates opened a big, green compost bin and pulled out the long thermometer.

“Why does it smell like that?” asked their teacher, Craig Shain.

“Too much nitrogen?” one student replied.

“You don’t sound sure of yourself. What do the rest of you think? What should we do?” Shain asked.

The students pondered for a moment, then decided it would be best to add the cafeteria kitchen scraps they collected that afternoon and some shredded paper from the recycling bins.

Their composting effort is part of Team Green’s projects for the spring. The compost they create will be used to fertilize the flower gardens at the school and the gardens at Falmouth High School. Team Green is also considering selling some of the nutrient-rich compost as a fundraiser for future projects and trips.

Four members of the team recently returned from a two-day Green Summit conference at the University of New Hampshire, where more than 400 students from New England and New York convened to share ideas and present their efforts.

“They did a terrific job with the presentation,” Shain said.

The four Falmouth students created a computer presentation, and Shain said other students discussed efforts to preserve wetlands behind their schools, butterfly gardens, elimination of Styrofoam tray from cafeterias and many other student-run projects.

“The kids had a blast,” he said. “It was well worth the trip.”

Shain and his students are already implementing some of the strategies they learned at the summit. They have convinced the cafeteria to use compostable disposable forks at an upcoming outdoor school picnic.

Team Green has been collecting returnable bottles to raise money for their travel expenses and projects. They also received grants from the Falmouth Educational Foundation and Kids Consortium to support their efforts.

“We started Team Green to raise awareness,” Shain said. He pointed to a long list of student-proposed goals for the team written on his classroom dry-erase board. There was a check next to composting.

“We still have a lot to do,” he said.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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Marie Baker, left, and Haley Reed peer into a compost bin while Keenan Kent moves a wheelbarrow in the greenhouse at Falmouth Middle School. The three students are part of the Team Green and recently returned from a Green Summit at the University of New Hampshire where they gave a presentation to hundreds of other students about their efforts in composting their cafeteria’s waste.

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