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Worms teach Mauke pupils vital lessons

Saturday May 07, 2016 Written by Published in Outer Islands
Mauke school students were delighted to receive their new worm farm. 16050601 Mauke school students were delighted to receive their new worm farm. 16050601

Te Ipukarea Society’s waste management project has wriggled its way to Mauke School.


The project involves dispatching worm farms and compost bins to all schools within the Cook Islands. School students will be advised on how these systems break down organic waste and learn more about the environmental benefits of alternative ways of dealing with rubbish.

Mauke School’s newest worm farm was welcomed by local school teacher June Hosking.  Worm farms require a particular type of worm that feeds on the surface rather than the well-known earth worm which lives within the soil. As a result of June setting up her own worm farm some time ago, she was able to relocate about 200 or so worms into the school’s new worm farm.

The new wriggly worms of Mauke School have already received a generous amount of green material from the school kids, including raked rubbish and cuttings from the weeded gardens.  However, it is important not to “over-feed” the worms.

This is because if there is too much organic material it can heat up, as in a typical compost system, and the worms do not like the extra heat. Because of the enthusiasm shown by students in supplying so much organic waste, June has had to share the load with her own compost bin located at her house. Once the new compost bin for the school arrives from Te Ipukarea Society, this should no longer be a problem.

Not only has June been able to teach the local school students the environmental benefits of worm farms, she has also been able to address the chemistry elements involved. For instance, June’s science lessons have involved discussions on the particle theory, whereby there are three ways to increase particle collision.

One way involves the rate of reaction which can be increased by having a larger surface area, achieved by cutting up bigger scraps into smaller pieces. Green material can be broken down faster by increasing the amount of worms present. The third method involves increased heat, which the worms don’t like but is more relevant within compost systems. June’s practical chemistry classes have been a great hit with the students who have been able to visually see chemistry processes in action.

Araura College on Aitutaki and Te Uki Ou on Rarotonga are the other schools which have already received their own worm farms. More worm farms and the compost bins are expected on the next ship from Auckland later this month.

Palmerston and Mangaia are the next schools on the list to receive their worm farms and compost bins. All schools should eventually receive a worm farm and compost bin, and on site training in their use.

Much of the funding has come from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants fund. The New Zealand High Commission has also supplied 10 worm farms to help more schools to be included.

Te Ipukarea Society is still seeking support for 10 more worm farms in order to ensure all schools are covered.

If you or your business are interested in funding a worm farm for a school, please contact us on 21144.  - TIS