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Lessons on Worms May Unearth a Profit

To raise money for field trips, high school students often sell items like chocolate bars, magazine subscriptions and wrapping paper.

But for a financial boost--not to mention an ecological lesson--60 sophomores at Kennedy High School in Granada Hills are looking to earthworms.

They won’t be going door-to-door with the crawling creatures. Rather, they will study a bin full of them, performing experiments throughout the year and watching their subjects reproduce.

The initial shipment, a donation by Granada Hills worm farmer Hy Hunter, arrived at the school last week.

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With reproduction roughly doubling the worms’ numbers each month, the plan is to sell off excess worms to farmers, who use them to break down waste into rich soil.

Aside from pursuing potential profit, Kennedy teacher Willy Ackerman said students will learn about the ecological role played by worms.

The participating students are enrolled in the school’s Humanitas program, which uses environmental and social science to connect English and biology classes.

“I was quite surprised at how excited they got,” Ackerman said of the students, who toured Hunter’s worm farm earlier this month. “You wouldn’t think that worms would turn them on. But when they see the impact on the environment, they get really excited.”

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Some farmers and scientists, including Hunter, think that many of the world’s waste management and landfill problems could be solved by earthworms, who can chew through everything from food to newspaper.

“We began this thing thinking, ‘Oh, maybe we can make enough for a field trip,’ ” Ackerman recalled. “But the students’ focus has changed . . . to ‘Isn’t this interesting?’ ”

In an essay after the worm farm trip, student Robert Morales commented on “all that rich soil” at the farm. “Worms produce soil from what is basically trash.”


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