This is the third part of EcoSSIStem's six-part Compost Series, based on our project design and process.
During this stage, it helped so much to have the guidance of one of our maintenance staff, Mr. Khue. He was able to acquire all of our materials (wood planks, screws, hinges, L-brackets, etc.), supply our tools (jigsaws, drills), and offer us a lot of insight in how to tackle this construction. Throughout, Mr. Manh from Gaia Nature Conservation was also a major help in advising us on the types of materials we can buy locally.
We ran into a big problem during our first day of construction. Mr. Khue told us that the type of wood that we ordered was too soft to withstand the weight of the bins with the compost! That first day, we had to work on the "bin" component first and then scramble to buy a tougher type of wood. (Thank the stars someone had told us before we actually put compost in them!)
NOTE: See our proposal from the last post for the full materials list.
Assembling the building team
We tried to involve as many different stakeholders as possible. In addition to our club members, we also had five teachers, our head of school, managers of The Caterers, and maintenance staff come to help build these three bins.
In addition, Mr. Manh and Ms. Huyen from Gaia Nature Conservation were our expert guides during all of our sessions. They had such a thorough understanding of the mechanics and function of each component. For students who have never even held power tools before, their help was critical!
We worked 3:00 - 5:00pm after school for about three days, and then spent extra time during Spring Break to finish them off.
It was really special to involve so many different people in the process as it helped to raise awareness about our project AND it made building the bins a lot more fun!
Set up a schedule and sign-up sheet. Two hour time chunks allowed us to make significant progress, without it being too strenuous. Look for scheduled days off or vacations and then create a Google Doc so that people can sign up!
Spread the word. We sent out an email inviting our school staff and other stakeholders to take part in the project. It helped to talk directly to teachers and friends that might be interested.
Send reminders. We made sure everyone knew when and where to come via email! Because we had all of our materials and an experienced expert to guide the session, we were good to go.
Thanks to all of our volunteers!
Mr. Weinberg, Mr. Ratliff, Mr. Sylte, Ms. Fetterolf, Mr. Vinh, Mr. Khue, Mr. Manh, and Ms. Huyen
Compost Team: Catherine, Kayla, Jiyoon, Jiwon, Nina, Gia Bao, Haryoung, Giang, Celine (myself), Mr. Jay, and Ms. Alexander
On top of our original design, we added some practical modifications to increase our chances of successful compost.
The roof: We asked our school landscaper to build a small roof to shelter our compost bins from the rain (too much water would ruin the compost!).
Water-resistant coating: We painted our wooden frame with a wood sealant to protect against rotting in this humid climate.
Internal netting: Mr. Manh and Ms. Huyen suggested that we add wire mesh netting covering the aeration holes from the inside so as to prevent the waste materials from falling out during rotation, while also allowing air to pass.
Reflection/next step: I was so proud to have finally been able to see and touch my vision after so many months of planning. Again, I have to mention that none of us had ever used power tools before and we just constructed these from scratch. Now I don't know about you... but I would not underestimate the power of young people on a mission.
Once we had built and placed the bins in the Student Garden, all we had to do was execute our maintenance plans!