Since my last blog update, I have been researching educational theory and STEM educational practices. Through this research, the concept of ‘Experiential’ or “Hands-on’ education has become a central theme. The premise is that experiential education is a way to supplement formal, facts-based learning with the goal of increasing the understanding of this knowledge. In this research, I assert that experiential learning does more than just increase understanding of scientific processes, but empowers learners to own and become stewards of this knowledge.
So, what does this mean for composting and food waste? Compost is a fundamentally hands-on process, but can appear abstract on paper. It is recycling in which people can become engaged through every step of the process from food to soil, and back to food. While we struggle with participation in food waste recycling, it is experiential learning of the process which can help people understand it uses and thus empower them to participate.
This project has required a great amount of collaboration with my mentor. My biggest struggle is trying to articulate and organize my ideas and findings into a paper. In my meetings with Professor Dupuis, we do brainstorming sessions on the whiteboard where these ideas flush out and take a more clear shape. She helps me recognize the connections in my ideas and in turn empowers me to investigate further. In a sense, it is much like experiential learning where engaged problem solving prompts a greater understanding of my research, and greater motivation to continue.