Big Idea

In this lesson, students will learn about the important role bees play in the plant life cycle, and how everyday people and scientists can work together to save these at-risk populations!

Take Action

In the ‘Take Action’ section of this lesson, students will build a bee monitoring station. This device is equipped with a counter so we can see how many pollinators visit a flower or garden and track their population over time.

Learning Goals

Students will:

  • Explain how pollination works and the role bees play in this process
  • Describe at least one way we can protect pollinator species
  • Build a bee counter device that:
    • uses the breakout board, touch sensor, and LED ring from the Climate Action Kit
    • combines conditional statements and variables to track data such as bee visits


This lesson provides a strong real-world application and hands-on activity to supplement the following Grade 3-5 Next Generation Science Standards:

  • plant life cycle (3-LS1-1)
  • external and internal structures of plants (4-LS1-1)
  • protecting Earth’s resources and environment (5-ESS3-1)

We recommend students have a basic understanding of the plant life cycle before starting this lesson.


Per 1-3 students:

  • Climate Action Kit
  • micro:bit
  • Computer with access to Microsoft MakeCode
  • Plant (real or crafted)

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 the important role bees play in the production of the vegetables, fruits, and flowers we enjoy and need.

Students will:

  1. View a diagram of the plant life cycle and complete a Think-Pair-Share reflection to activate prior knowledge
  2. Learn about the process of pollination

Take Action (45 minutes)

Students will learn about the ways every day people and scientists are working together to monitor and save bee populations. Then, they will build their very own bee counter 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 bee counter.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a bee counter with the Climate Action Kit
– explain how to increase the number on my bee counter
– describe how conditional statements help us make decisions in code

Final Code
ModifyStudents will follow a step-by-step tutorial to build their bee counter. After this, they will tinker with the code to understand how the variable and conditional statement work together to help us count bees. Finally, they will add LED output whenever a bee lands to demonstrate their understanding of conditional statements.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a bee counter with the Climate Action Kit
– make changes to my code to learn how it works
– describe how variables store information
– describe how conditional statements help us make decision in code

Final Code
CreateStudents will work in small groups to continue researching the ways scientists are studying bees and will design a prototype with the Climate Action Kit.

Success Criteria
I can build a device to study or save bees with the Climate Action Kit that uses at least:

– one sensor
– one variable
– one 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 role bees play within pollination
  • Identify at least one way we can protect pollinator populations
  • Explain the purpose of each smart component and building block in the main build (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Explain the purpose of the conditional statements and variables in the bee counter project (Use, Modify, Create)


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


  • Correctly label key parts of the plant life cycle and pollination process
  • Add comments to the code to demonstrate their understanding of each block (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Create a 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 3-5

3-LS1-1 Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles, but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

4-LS1-1 Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Computer Science Teachers Association Standards

Grade 3-5

1B-CS-01 Describe how internal and external parts of computing devices function to form a system.

1B-CS-02 Model how computer hardware and software work together as a system to accomplish tasks.

1B-AP-09 Create programs that use variables to store and modify data.

1B-AP-10 Create programs that include sequences, events, loops, and conditionals.

1B-AP-15 Test and debug (identify and fix errors) a program or algorithm to ensure it runs as intended.

1B-AP-16 Take on varying roles, with teacher guidance, when collaborating with peers during the design, implementation, and review stages of program development.

1B-AP-17 Describe choices made during program development using code comments, presentations, and demonstrations.

United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals