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Protecting Nature with Technology


Grade Range
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
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
A breadboard is wired with two aluminum legs that are inserted into the ground


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.

Learning Objectives

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices
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).
Disciplinary Core Ideas
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.
Crosscutting Concepts
Stability and Change. Feedback (negative or positive) can stabilize or destabilize a system.


Each group of students will need:

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Background Information for Teachers

This section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.

Human activity can impact the environment in a variety of ways, ranging from air or water pollution to the destruction of animal habitats. This lesson plan will allow your students to explore how some of these impacts can be measured electronically using the parts in the Electronic Sensors Kit, and develop a plan for how feedback from their sensor can be used to help the environment. You can decide whether you would like your students to choose from the following suggested topics, think of their own topic, or focus on a single activity for the entire class. Links to related Science Buddies project ideas provide more background information about each topic.

This is a very open-ended lesson. While there are specific instructions for building each circuit, how they use the circuit will be up to the students, and they will need to develop a plan for how it could be used in the real world. They will need to do some additional research on their own in order to complete the project.

Note: Depending on the project(s) you select, you and your students will need to be comfortable using a multimeter and/or a breadboard. You will also need a beginner-level understanding of electrical terms like voltage, current, and resistance, as well as their respective units (volts, amperes, and ohms) and metric prefixes (m for milli, k for kilo, etc.).

Prep Work (1 hour)

Engage (30 minutes)

Explore (4-6 hours)

Reflect (1 hour)


Make Career Connections

Lesson Plan Variations

Free science fair projects.