While many students may not think much about the science of poop, poop is actually an interesting compound made up of food waste, bacteria and digestive enzymes. Poop’s composition is based on what the animal that produced it ate. Animals that are carnivores or omnivores have poop that has more nitrogen and odor producing molecules then the poop of herbivores do and because of this it smells a lot more and it is slower to degrade. Because of these facts it does not make a good compost material. Herbivore poop, on the other hand, is comprised of organic materials that break down quickly. It, therefore, makes a great composting material.
Students, or classrooms, that are studying ecosystems, biodegradability and/or environment issues, may want to explore the fascinating world of poop. Projects on this subject can range from ways to overcome the obstacles of using carnivore poop for compost to determining which types of plants prefer carnivore poop to herbivore poop. You can also design a project that looks at how much poop is produced in a given area based on the number dogs, cats, birds and humans.
Finding ways to handle waste products like poop is important for many reasons. First of all, healthy alternatives to old sludge ponds are needed to keep our communities safe from biological hazards. Next we don’t want to walk in a park filled with doggie landmines. Finally, starting a discussion with your students about managing pet poop can be used as a lead in to discussions about other waste science issues like landfills, recycling and the strategy of “reduce, reuse and recycle.”
As an educator you can introduce interesting topics like the science of poop to your students through easy science fair projects or science experiments. These in-class projects can then be used to inspire award winning science fair projects.