AMS Campus Sustainability Project

Academic Enrichment Grant 2020-2021 Project Summary

Leon Tynes

Academy of Math and Science Desert Sky • Glendale, AZ

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps and yard waste together make up about 30 percent of what we throw away. At our school, approximately 50 percent of our lunchtime trash consists of food waste. Forbes reports that powerful greenhouse gas from food rot has “21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.” Methane, the most potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, enters the atmosphere from hydraulic fracturing, agricultural land use change, and many other sources. Landfills emit significant quantities of methane when organic matter, like food waste, is deposited concurrently with inorganic matter. Our students are developing a separate food waste collection system and will develop a natural system of composting on campus. We will construct ‘bins’ from shipping pallets and wire and measure the breakdown rate with and without worms. We will incorporate shredded paper and cardboard and weigh the compost piles periodically and track the data in spreadsheets. Using a Raspberry Pi and sensors, we will track the moisture and temperature levels to identify which method is the most efficient. We will also use a different set of sensors to comparatively measure methane emission from each compost pile. We will use the end product for our campus community garden and donate the remainder to local gardens and parks. Another goal is to create a school policy that provides a clear vision of the waste reduction and recycling goals, including buying recycled products for the cafeteria. The students will take raw data such as temperature & weight over time to comparatively assess the effectiveness of their design. Students will be assessed at each step by a rubric for the 3D modeling, construction, data collection, data modeling and summative presentation. The students will educate peers on the importance of separating food and organic waste from metal, glass and plastic waste for sustainability purposes. Also, students will research, 3D model & design what their composting vessels will look like, and receive feedback from our science instructors and professors. The students will build their designs in small groups and place their vessels in a designated spot on campus. Students will assemble a Raspberry Pi CPU with humidity, temperature and pressure sensors with a heat probe powered by solar panels to regularly collect data and store the .csv on a cloud server. The students will use the data to create visual charts and graphs as a part of their presentation to evaluate the efficacy of each vessel and composting method.

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