Big Idea

In this lesson, students will learn how vertical farming uses custom lighting to meet plants’ unique light needs at different growth stages, enhancing sustainability and efficiency in urban agriculture.

Take Action

In the ‘Take Action’ section of this lesson, students will use the Climate Action Kit to design and build their own vertical farm prototype that accurately delivers light to each plant!

Learning Goals

Students will…

  • Identify which wavelengths of light are best for different stages of plant growth
  • Discuss how plants have evolved to have unique light requirements
  • Explain how vertical farming uses technology to maximize crop growth
  • Compare the sustainability of vertical farming to traditional farming
  • Build a vertical farm prototype that:
    • uses the LED ring and positional servo motor from the Climate Action Kit
    • optimizes light conditions for different plants
    • uses lists to store data on plant light requirements
    • uses functions to reduce redundancy and improve readability of code


This lesson provides a strong real-world application and hands-on activity to supplement the following Next Generation Science Standards:

We recommend students have a basic understanding of these topics before starting this lesson.


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 (30 minutes)

Learn about the sustainability and efficiency of vertical farming practices.

Students will:

  1. Learn about the climate issues vertical farming addresses
  2. Compare and contrast plants grown under different wavelengths of light
  3. Discuss the role of red and blue light in plant growth
  4. Learn about how custom LED lighting is revolutionizing vertical farming

Take Action (60 minutes)

Students will build their own vertical farm that is capable of distributing optimized lighting treatments to different plants.

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 vertical farm.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a vertical farm prototype with the Climate Action Kit
– use unique events to deliver ideal light to each plant in my vertical farm
– explain how functions are used to reduce redundancy and improve the readability of code
– use pseudocode to write a function for plant light treatment

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

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a vertical farm prototype with the Climate Action Kit
– store data on plant lighting requirements in a list (e.g. brightness, colour, duration, etc.)
– call and pass data from each list to a function in order to optimize the light treatment for each plant in my vertical farm

Final Code
CreateStudents will work in a small group to design, build & code their own vertical farming system.

Success Criteria
I can build a vertical farm prototype with the Climate Action Kit that:

– has at least two vertical stacks or shelves for unique plants
– is capable of delivering custom lighting treatment to each plant
– considers the appropriate colour and duration of light exposure

and uses at least:
– the LED ring
– one servo motor

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:


  • Explain the role of red and blue light in plant growth
  • List two benefits of vertical farming as it pertains to Climate Action
  • Discuss the purpose of each smart component and building block in the main build (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Explain the purpose of the lists and function in the vertical farm 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 their own list to store data on plant light needs (Modify, Create)
  • Design their own prototype that satisfies provided criteria (Create)
  • NGSS
  • CSTA
  • UN SDGs

Next Generation Science Standards

Grade 9-12

HS-LS1-5 Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.

HS-LS4-4 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.

HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

HS-ETS1-2 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.

Computer Science Teachers Association Standards

Grade 9-10

3A-AP-14 Use lists to simplify solutions, generalizing computational problems instead of repeatedly using simple variables.

3A-AP-16 Design and iteratively develop computational artifacts for practical intent, personal expression, or to address a societal issue by using events to initiate instructions.

3A-AP-17 Decompose problems into smaller components through systematic analysis, using constructs such as procedures, modules, and/or objects.

3A-AP-18 Create artifacts by using procedures within a program, combinations of data and procedures, or independent but interrelated programs.

United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals