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Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
3-4 students
Active Time
6-8 hours
Total Time
6-8 hours
Area of Science
Environmental Science
Electricity & Electronics
Key Concepts
Human impact on the environment, electrical circuits, engineering
Learning Objectives
  • Design, build, and test an environmental monitoring circuit
  • Understand how feedback from the circuit can be used to help protect the environment
  • Present a plan for how the circuit could be used in the real world
environmental monitoring circuit

Overview

You might have read about the negative impacts modern human civilization has had on the environment, like pollution, deforestation, and extinction of animal species. How can we use modern technology to help protect the environment? In this project-based lesson students will design an electronic circuit that can measure something in the environment like water quality and light pollution, and develop a plan for how their circuits could be used to solve a real-world problem.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Make and defend a claim based on evidence about the natural world or the effectiveness of a design solution that reflects scientific knowledge, and student-generated evidence.

Obtaining, Evaluation, and Communicating Information. Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (including orally, graphically, textually, and mathematically).
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems. Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.
Stability and Change. Feedback (negative or positive) can stabilize or destabilize a system.

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials

Each group of students will need:

  • Electronic Sensors Kit, available from our partner Home Science Tools.
  • Additional materials depending on which project they choose. Please read the Teacher Prep section, which describes the different options in more detail, so you can decide what materials to make available to your students. Examples include (but are not limited to):
    • Tubs of water
    • Popsicle sticks and aluminum foil to make moisture probes
    • Potted plants or dirt
    • Flashlights
    • Aquarium or pond water
    • Small, clear, plastic cups for water samples
    • Cardboard boxes
    • Tape
    • Scissors
    • Bromothymol Blue Indicator solution 0.04% (w/v); available from Amazon.com. Changes color depending on pH of water.

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Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
3-4 students
Active Time
6-8 hours
Total Time
6-8 hours
Area of Science
Environmental Science
Electricity & Electronics
Key Concepts
Human impact on the environment, electrical circuits, engineering
Learning Objectives
  • Design, build, and test an environmental monitoring circuit
  • Understand how feedback from the circuit can be used to help protect the environment
  • Present a plan for how the circuit could be used in the real world

Class Materials