Understand decomposition

THEME: The Living Soil–The Living Plant: We are all Interconnected and Related
STRAND: Science of Soil Fertility

Key Concepts

Observe decaying organic matter and explain its role within the garden ecosystem.


Build and maintain a compost system to demonstrate the cycling of matter and apply to the garden.

Measure the change in volume of a compost pile over time.

Measure the temperature changes in a compost pile over time.

Collect and culture microbe samples using an agar petri dish. Using a microscope, analyze growth to distinguish between ʻthreadsʻ (mycelium) of fungus and the circular ʻclumpsʻ (colonies) of bacteria.

Construct a Berlese funnel to identify macroorganisms in the soil.

\* See Appendix:
NRCS Soil Biology Primer, Decomposition Timeline
Agar plate prep: Berlese funnel:


Graph the changes in volume and temperature of a compost pile and determine if there is a relationship.

Create a decomposition timeline using organic and inorganic items found in the garden and on school campus. Display in the garden