That's Not Gross...It's Decomposition!

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Students will be able to observe and record the sequence of changes that occur during the decomposition of different products.

Big Idea

Students will set up a several week long investigation project by placing different items in small, clear, lidded jars so students can observe the changes over time.


1 minutes

Warm Up

5 minutes

I will begin the lesson with a whole group discussion with the class. I will ask students to provide any background knowledge that they have of decomposition. What does it mean? What does it look like? I will share with students that decomposition involves something that was once living breaking down. I will inform students that over the course of the final weeks of school, we will be investigating items decomposing over time.

I am asking the students these questions because I want to ensure that they have a full understanding of what decomposition is. They will hear the term quite often over the course of the next few weeks as they observe the decomposition of organic and inorganic items.


30 minutes

Students will view the Discovery Education video resource: Magic School Bus: Meets the Rot Squad. This video takes about thirty minutes. Allowing students to view the video resource, gives the students the opportunity to learn about decomposition in an exciting and engaging manner.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

After viewing the video resource, I will inform students that we will be collecting items to observe over the course of the next couple weeks. I will instruct students to grab their lunchboxes and remove any left over items. Students will work together to select up to nine items to collect and observe. We will break each item in half and put them into to different clear jars. We will close the lids and seal them with masking tape. I will explain to the students that half of the jars will be placed inside the classroom in the windowsill and the other half will be placed outside of our classroom in the courtyard.

I will ask the students to predict why they believe we are placing one of each item indoors and one outdoors. I will select students at random. We will discuss variables while making predictions of what we think will happen to each item over time.

Students will recieve a Decomposition Data Recording Sheet to use over the next few weeks. Students will be given the opportunity to record the observable properties of the food on day one as well as their predictions. Once all students have recorded the observable properties, I will have a volunteer to take the jars into the courtyard on the opposite side of the windowsill where the other jars are placed.