Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School: What’s Up with Worm Composting?

  • Project Type: Path to Net Zero, Waste Reduction
  • Students: 20
  • Staff: 2
  • Mentor: Richard Katz
  • Location: Oak Park, IL
  • Grade Levels: 6th, 7th, & 8th

The Project

As a participant in the 2022-23 cohort of the Illinois Green Schools Project, the Brooks Green Team, composed of 20 students across 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, set out to create and implement a vermiculture composting system at their school. And if you've never heard of "vermiculture", it means WORMS! Bins of soil and worms are regularly fed food scraps, which they eat and break down into healthy soil! With their project, green team students addressed food waste through education of their peers, artistic expression, and science!

After learning about the importance of composting by speaking with a member of the Illinois Food Scrap & Composting Coalition, the Gwendolyn Brooks Green Team applied for and earned an Illinois Green Alliance Mini-Grant!  Students used the funds to purchase wood, paint, worms, and other supplies for an educational exhibit.


They built compost bins and a surrounding exhibit and mural themselves, learning how to use a jig saw, and painting the exhibit with colorful artwork and composting facts to ensure that the school understood how the system worked.

The school plans to maintain the system, continuing to divert waste away from landfills while caring for their new school pets!