Sustainable Agriculture: Composting Through STEAM Entrepreneurship and Research

A critical step for the advancement of sustainable agriculture in Hawai‘i is promoting the use of composting to transform waste into organic fertilizer, and Waipahu Intermediate School teacher Ken Kozuma’s students are getting a sustainable jumpstart.

As part of the GEER-funded STEAM Entrepreneurship and Research (STEAMER) Network, the composting project is currently being run in five of Mr. Kozuma’s 7th and 8th grade agriculture classes. Student learning comes through hands-on experiences, guided discussion, and class reflection.

Mr. Kozuma and his students used the Engineering Design Process to create the composting systems and the classes are evaluating the effectiveness of their designs and continue to make changes and upgrades.

But progress has created its own challenges for the students. The project was dealt a major setback when thieves made off with much of the plywood used for the composting systems. Displaying resilience and ingenuity, Mr. Kozuma and his students designed new methods for constructing the systems using materials that would be less likely to catch the eye of thieves.

With waste collection and composting well underway at Waipahu Intermediate School, Mr. Kozuma and his students hope to expand into entrepreneurial pursuits by selling their compost they have cultivated.

Published: 2022

From Washington Middle, Ilima Intermediate and Waipahu Intermediate School’s GEER Grant proposal: 

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to aggravate a disconnect between students, their peers, their teachers, and their community.  The STEAMER project aims to reestablish these connections.