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A Tradition of Excellence

A 2015 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence

Science Club: Composting and Decomposition

Below you can view the whole story- Download Our Presentation at the bottom of the screen We will soon present these ideas in an assembly for grades 4-8.

We submitted our experiment to the local Stars Challenge science competition , detailed at bottom of page. 

To Compost or Not to Compost, That is the Question

Our School’s Problem

On October 12, 2010, five Holy Cross students and our science teacher, Mrs. Tomaino, met to solve the school- wide problem of harmful Styrofoam plates being used in our very own cafeteria.   The problem first arose two years ago when a new lunch corporation arrived at our school.   The plates were immediately noticed by teachers and staff.   Some students were unaware of the growing problem, but others realized how harmful the plates truly were.   We estimate that our school uses about 20,000 plates each year.   This extremely high number is shocking.   Now think of all those plates from other schools in our local area being discarded into landfills with no potential to decompose.   Styrofoam plates never decompose; therefore they are creating infinite amounts of waste and it is all piling up in landfills worldwide.

The newly-formed Holy Cross Science Club has set out to minimize this problem, starting with our school.   We plan to present this problem and a reasonable solution to our principal, Mrs. Graham, and the school's lunch group.   There are many alternatives we can use to replace styrofoam, such as plates made of potatoes, sugar cane (bagasse), wheat, palm, cardboard, and palm leaves.   After extensive research and obtaining samples of each product, our club has come to the conclusion that each sample is capable of performing the same job that styrofoam does.   The alternative plates are completely compostable, and we plan to prove this point by building a compost and placing a sample of each material in it.   The purpose of our experiment is to test different forms of biodegradable plates and compare how fast they decompose.   Our control is the styrofoam plates themselves, and our manipulated variables are sugar cane, potato, wheat, palm, cardboard, and palm leave plates.   Finally, our responding variables are the temperature (*F) of the compost and the mass, volume and the organism count of each sample.

Working towards our goal has been demanding,   but each of us has learned a great deal about ways to reduce waste in our school.   The science club is advised by Mrs. Tomaino and   has nine members overall:   Rachel Diaz (President), Courtney Labrecque (Vice President), Megan Burke and Lili Whitelaw (Digital Secretaries), Chris Mayro (Treasurer), Julia O'Malley (Secretary), Michael Cornette, Brian Butler, Allie Kazalski and Matt Branagan.

To READ MORE ---- Download the Lab Report or PowerPoint PDF at the bottom of page.

I n addition we will enter our ideas into:

Are you up for a science challenge and winning $1,000 at Monmouth University?


You and a group of your students have the opportunity to identify a problem that requires science, creativity and teamwork to solve.   Teams from all over Monmouth County can enter.  Each team consists of one teacher and a group of students from a public or private middle school.