Big Idea

In this lesson, students will learn about the important roles sea turtles play in maintaining marine ecosystems. They’ll explore how light pollution threatens sea turtle populations and how simple design changes can have a major impact on life under water.

Take Action

In the ‘Take Action’ section of this lesson, students will use the Climate Action Kit to design and build a beach lighting that helps guide sea turtle hatchlings safely to the ocean.

Learning Goals

Students will…

  • Explain at least two roles sea turtles play in marine ecosystems
  • Describe the impact artificial lighting has on sea turtle behaviour
  • Discuss the importance of preserving sea turtles
  • Build a sea turtle-friendly beach light that uses:
    • the solar sensor, sonar sensor and LED ring from the Climate Action Kit
    • standard, compound, and nested conditional statements to adjust the brightness of the beach light based on environmental signals


Per 1-3 students:

Get to Know the Content

  1. Make sure you’ve completed our ‘Getting Started with the Climate Action Kit’ course
  2. If it has been awhile, review the kit components featured in this lesson:
  3. Review the lesson, particularly the following thinking routines from Project Zero (Harvard Graduate School of Education):

Big Idea (15 minutes)

Learn about sea turtle behaviour and the important roles these species play in maintaining ocean ecosystems.

Students will:

  1. Identify the many roles sea turtles play in ocean ecosystems
  2. Compare and contrast two sea turtle nesting beach scenes
  3. Learn how light pollution threatens sea turtle survival

Take Action (45 minutes)

Students will explore how we can minimize shoreline light pollution with technology. They will build their own sea turtle-safe beach light with the Climate Action Kit.

We’ve provided 3 ways students may build the project to support scaffolding and differentiation in your classroom: ‘Use’, ‘Modify’, and ‘Create’.*

UseStudents will follow a step-by-step tutorial to build & use their beach light.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a sea turtle-safe beach light with the Climate Action Kit
– explain the effect environmental light levels have on the beach light
– identify conditional statements within code
– make suggestions to make my light even more turtle-safe

Final Code
ModifyStudents will follow a step-by-step tutorial to build their beach light. After this, they will modify the code and complete a challenge do demonstrate their understanding.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a sea turtle-safe beach light with the Climate Action Kit
– make changes to my code to learn how it works
– use operators to write Boolean expressions
– create compound and nested conditionals to adjust the brightness of my beach light based on different environmental conditions

Final Code
CreateStudents will work in a small group to design, build & code their own sea turtle-safe light.

Success Criteria
I can build a sea turtle-safe light that is physically:
– low to the ground
– dim
– red or amber in colour
– shielded

and uses:
– two sensors to respond to the environment
– one compound conditional statement

Blank Project

*Irene Lee, Fred Martin, Jill Denner, Bob Coulter, Walter Allan, Jeri Erickson, Joyce Malyn-Smith, and Linda Werner. 2011. Computational thinking for youth in practice. Acm Inroads 2, 1 (2011), 32–37.

Use the following criteria to assess student learning. Students can:


  • Describe the impact artificial lighting has on sea turtle behaviour
  • Construct an argument to justify the importance of saving sea turtles
  • Explain the purpose of each smart component and building block in the main build (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Explain the purpose of the different types of conditional statements in the sea turtle-safe beach light project (Use, Modify, Create)


  • Methodically test and debug their code to ensure it functions as intended (Modify, Create)


  • Add comments to the code to demonstrate their understanding of each block (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Create a standard, compound, and/or nested conditional statement that represents a decision making point within their algorithm (Modify, Create)
  • Design their own prototype that satisfies provided criteria (Create)
  • NGSS
  • CSTA
  • UN SDGs

Next Generation Science Standards

Grade 6-8

MS-LS1-4 Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviours and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.

MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.

MS-LS2-3 Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.

MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.

MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

MS-ETS1-4 Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

Computer Science Teachers Association Standards

Grade 6-8

2-CS-03 Systematically identify and fix problems with computing devices and their components.

2-AP-12 Design and iteratively develop programs that combine control structures, including nested loops and compound conditionals.

2-AP-17 Systematically test and refine programs using a range of test cases.

2-AP-19 Document programs in order to make them easier to follow, test, and debug.

United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals