Does Everything Decompose?

1 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will be able to investigate and compare the sequence of changes in the decomposition of various organic and inorganic materials.

Big Idea

Students will record observations of their organic materials collected in jars and make predictions of what will happen if we place plastic, aluminum, and marbles in a jar.

Warm Up

10 minutes

I will begin this lesson with a quick review of what it means to decompose. I will select a student to share the definition with the class as discussed in our previous lesson, That's Not Gross...It's Decomposition.

Next, students will be given the opportunity to observe the jars with the food in it from the previous lesson on their Decomposition Recording Sheets.


25 minutes

Once students have completed their observations of both the indoor and outdoor jars, we will return back to the carpet. We will discuss the changes that we have noticed in the items thus far and compare the indoor items with the outdoor items.

I will ask the students to think about what they believe will happen if we put inorganic items like plastic and aluminum in the jars and placed them in the same areas as the other jars. I will group students into groups of four and allow them to search the classroom for inorganic materials such as straws, marbles, paper, and foil. I will encourage the students to record their observable properties in their journals prior to placing the items in the clear, plastic jars. I will prompt students to draw their observations using as many details as possible.

Next, I will ask students to share their predictions about which materials will decompose the fastest, the organic materials that were placed in the jars the previous day, or the inorganic materials that were placed in the jars today. I will encourage the students to elaborate when sharing their predictions.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To conclude the lesson, I will inform the students that we will continue to monitor all of our items over the next several days. We will compare the decomposition of the organic and inorganic materials over time and record our observations on our recording sheets. Having the students record what they observe on their recording sheets allows them to collect data in an organized manner while being able to easily compare the different materials in different locations.