Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Follow the Green, Not the Dream

Environmental Science

Brittany Bowens, Lindsey Link | Published: July 19th, 2022 by K20 Center


This lesson focuses on the benefits, costs, and risks of creating products to protect natural systems and life on Earth. Students will design a tool that can be used to conserve a natural resource, and then they will modify their original designs based on research and peer feedback. In groups, students will present a sales pitch for the model they chose to create in a 3D printer.

Essential Question(s)

How can science and technology deliver a higher standard of living while protecting the resources available on Earth?



Students watch a video about a farmer's invention for conserving water.

Explore 1

Students brainstorm global and local issues that need to be addressed.

Explain 1

Students research a global or local issue to determine the science behind the problem and the ways in which it has been combated.

Explore 2

Students develop a tool in Tinkercad that can be used to conserve a natural resource.

Explain 2

Students modify one another's tools and develop a 3D design.


Students create and present a sales pitch for their model.


Students vote for the best tool and explain why they believe it would be effective and efficient in protecting natural systems.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Blank Cards (attached; one copy per group)

  • Resource Research handout (attached; one per group)

  • Tinkercad Scavenger Hunt handout (attached; one per student)

  • Shark Tank Instructions and Rubric handout (attached; one per student)

  • Shark Tank Presentations handout (attached; one per student)

  • Do Ink Scavenger Hunt handout (attached; optional; one per group)

  • Sticky notes

  • Pencils

  • Personal devices or laptops for student research and presentation

  • Wi-Fi/internet access

  • Tinkercad teacher account

  • Tinkercad student login information

  • 3D printer

  • Filament

  • 1 x MakerBot PLA Filament (buy 9, get 10-pack large)

  • MakerCare for MakerBot Replicator


15 Minute(s)

Introduce the lesson using the attached Lesson Slides. Display slide 3 to read aloud the essential question. Display slide 4 to go over the lesson objectives. Review these slides with students to the extent you feel necessary.

Go to slide 5. Have students watch the following video: “Shark Tank: The Most Selfless Entrepreneur Ever.”

After the video, go to slide 6 and have students record their answers to the following questions:

  • To make an effective sales pitch, what are three essential factors or elements that you noticed the salesperson included?

  • What are three factors or elements that you think he should not have included?

Have students use the Stand Up, Sit Down strategy to share out their findings. As they share out, write their opinions on the board.

Explore 1

20 Minute(s)

Display slide 8. Ask students to get in groups of 4 and use the Collective Brain Dump strategy. Have each group cut out the attached Blank Cards and work together to come up with 5–10 examples of man-made problems that deal with a limited natural resource. Students should write each problem on one of the blank cards.

Next, have groups divide their cards into two categories: global problems and local problems. Hand each student a sticky note, or leave a set of sticky notes with each group. Have students rotate around to each group’s area, review how their peers sorted the cards, and use the sticky notes and handout to offer suggestions for modifications to the cards or the category arrangements.

Then, ask each group to return to their own cards to read the suggestions from their peers and, if need be, modify their cards. When they are done, ask each group to decide which global or local problem/which limited resource they want to research for their project.

Explain 1

50 Minute(s)

Display slide 9. Inform students they are going to research, as a group, where their chosen problem occurs and why the resource is limited, as well as ways to combat the problem. Pass out the attached Resource Research handout to each group.

Have group members research each of the following questions in relation to the problem they chose:

  • Where does the problem occur?

  • Why is this resource limited?

  • What is the science behind the problem?

  • What tools have been used to combat this problem in the past? Find 2–3 tools.

  • What are some ways to combat this issue in the present?

  • What type of tool needs to be created to fix the problem?

Explore 2

20 Minute(s)

Transition to slide 10 and pass out the attached Tinkercad Scavenger Hunt handout. Invite students to explore the Tinkercad website to learn how to use the program to create 3D models.

Have students work in pairs to complete the handout using the Tinkercad website. After students have completed the scavenger hunt, have each student use Tinkercad to develop and create their own 3D design of a tool that can assist with the conservation of their group’s chosen resource.

Explain 2

20 Minute(s)

Display slide 11. Ask students to use the Two Stars and a Wish strategy to review their peers’ 3D designs and provide constructive feedback within their assigned groups. Have students write their two stars and a wish on sticky notes and leave them for their peers to read. After students have left their sticky notes at their peers’ designs, allow time for students to modify their designs. 

Once students have completed their modifications, have them rejoin their groups to review all members’ modified designs. Ask groups to decide which of their tools is the best to create in the 3D printer for a “Shark Tank” presentation. Then, have groups submit their designs to be printed. Finally, pass out the attached Shark Tank Instructions and Rubric handout for groups to construct their presentations while their designs are being printed.


30 Minute(s)

Display slide 12 and pass out the attached Shark Tank Presentations handout. Invite students to present their products, one group at a time.

As each group presents, have the rest of the class use the handout to take notes on the cost of the product, the potential risks associated with the product, the presenters’ best talking points related to the science behind the product, and any improvements that could be made to the product. After the presentation, feel free to open up the floor for questions about the use of the product.


15 Minute(s)

Once all groups have presented, ask students to review their notes and, in their groups, discuss which of their classmates’ products they would choose to support and why.

On the Shark Tank Presentations handout, have each student individually vote for the product they would choose to support, along with an explanation of how the product reduces or stabilizes the effects of human activity on natural systems. Tally up student votes and announce the winner on slide 15.