Big Idea

In this lesson, students will explore how indoor farming solutions use data and technology to help us grow food in a sustainable way.

Take Action

In the ‘Take Action’ section of this lesson, students will build an automated hydroponic farming system that responds to soil moisture levels and tracks data on watering times.

Learning Goals

Students will:

  • Define hydroponics
  • Explain at least one benefit of using indoor hydroponic farming systems
  • Build an automated hydroponic farming system that uses:
    • the moisture sensor, water pump and LED ring from the Climate Action Kit
    • nested loops to automate watering based on moisture level
    • events and variables to track and provide data on pump activity
  • Hydroponic robotics kit for teaching primary and secondary students coding and computer science with Microsoft MakeCode and BBC micro:bit
  • Elementary students using Microsoft MakeCode's block programming software to build and test a hydroponics kit for learning computer science with the BBC micro:bit


Per 1-3 students:

  • Climate Action Kit or Smart Farming Kit
  • micro:bit
  • Computer with access to Microsoft MakeCode
  • Two containers for water
  • Optional: Plant

Get to Know the Content

  1. Make sure you’ve completed the ‘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

Big Idea (15 minutes)

Learn about the different features of smart hydroponic farming systems.

Take Action (45 minutes)

Students will build their own farming system 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 farming system. The goal is to help them develop a better understanding of its features without requiring actual coding.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a smart farming system with the Climate Action Kit
– explain how the hardware and software of my project work together
– explain how to trigger the pump in my farming system
– explain how my farming system calculates data on pump run time

Final Code
Modify Students will follow a step-by-step tutorial to build their farming system. After this, they will modify the code and complete a few challenges to improve the device.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a smart farming system with the Climate Action Kit
– make changes to my code to learn how it works
– combine loops and moisture sensors to automate the pump in my farming system
– add visual and audio output to improve the user experience of my farming system

Final Code
CreateStudents will work in small groups to research different smart farming solutions. They will then design and build their own prototype with the Climate Action Kit.

Success Criteria
I can build a smart farming system with the Climate Action Kit that uses at least:

– one sensor to measure environmental data
– one control structure to automate farming steps

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:


  • Articulate the benefits and drawbacks of indoor hydroponic farming systems
  • Explain the purpose of each smart component and building block in the main build (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Explain the purpose of the different control structures (loops, conditionals) and variables in the smart farming 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)
  • Add at least two visual or audio cues to the farming system that represent the different stages of watering and improve the user experience of the prototype (Modify, Create)
  • Design their own prototype that satisfies provided criteria (Create)
  • NGSS
  • CSTA
  • UN SDGs

Next Generation Science Standards

Grade 6-8

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-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.

Computer Science Teachers Association Standards

Grade 6-8

2-CS-01 Recommend improvements to the design of computing devices, based on an analysis of how users interact with the devices.

2-CS-02 Design projects that combine hardware and software components to collect and exchange data.

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

2-AP-11 Create clearly named variables that represent different data types and perform operations on their values.

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

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

United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals