SPIKE™ Essential

Protect the Environment

Leo takes good care of Spike Town. How can you care for the environment in your community?

45-90 min.
Grade 5


(NOTE: This lesson contains a Part A and a Part B. Both are important to access the full learning of the standard. If time is limited, review both parts to choose elements that meet your students’ needs.)

In this lesson, the important learning occurs through researching different ways communities can protect the environment. The example model/program shows one way—with a community recycling center that can detect white-colored plastics and make a cheering sound. Encourage students to use the examples for inspiration and then design and build the community actions they researched.

  • Build Prior Knowledge - Protect the Environment: Using your core science materials, share information, images, and definitions.
    • Review what students know or do to protect the environment, e.g., recycling, planting trees, and using solar power. They will learn more about such actions through this research activity.
    • Key vocabulary: environment, recycling
  • Building and Programming Experience: Review the suggestions in the Unit Plan. For this lesson, you may also want to:
    • Reinforce with the Color Sensor tutorial in the SPIKE App Start menu.
    • Use the Event and Sensor Blocks sections of the Help>Word Blocks menu in the SPIKE App to provide more support.
  • Materials: Locate suitable research resources about actions to protect the environment, such as by searching government agencies or local preservation organizations. Consider how to integrate resources in the lesson. Collect craft materials if desired.

PART A (45 Minutes)


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Introduce the story’s main character(s) and the first challenge: Leo takes good care of Spike Town. How can you care for the environment in your community?

  • THINK—Facilitate a brief discussion about the lesson topic(s), using the story picture if you wish:

    • What are some actions that people take that harm Earth’s environment—its land, air, water, plant life? (Build cities, pave roads, cut down trees, pollute the air and water through factory emissions, etc.)
    • What are some ways that people use science to care for the environment in their communities? (Recycling, installing solar panels and wind turbines, planting trees, pollution controls, etc.)
    • Choose one of these ways, or another that interests you, to investigate. You’ll show that learning through a model. (Review classroom best practices for research.)
  • Distribute a SPIKE Essential Set and device to each group.


(Small Groups, 25 minutes)

  • Consider sharing the examples below, clarifying that they show a model/program of a community recycling center that can detect yellow-colored plastics and make a cheering sound. Students’ models should show the community actions they researched.

  • Have students:

    • Use at least two resources to research one way that people use science to protect the environment in their communities.
    • Begin to BUILD and PROGRAM a model of their chosen community action, using the provided base model for inspiration if they wish.
  • Facilitate brainstorming about ways to PROGRAM students’ models, such as how to run a motor, use a sensor, and/or activate lights or sounds.

Example Ideas

SPIKE Essential Protect Environment - en


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Gather students for sharing. 

  • Have each group use their progress model to demonstrate and explain how it will show their community action.

  • Elicit sharing about students’ progress work and encourage students to use inspiration from shared ideas.

  • If you wish to continue in Part B—Explain, have students keep their models intact or allow time for rebuilding.

PART B (45 minutes)


(Whole Class, 10 minutes)

  • Repeat the steps from Part A—Explain to support additional sharing, brainstorming, and inspiration for continued model building.


(Whole Class, 30 minutes)

  • Have students:

    • (15 min) Continue to BUILD and PROGRAM their model of a community action.
    • (10 min) Use their completed models to share their learning about the community action.
  • (5 min) Invite students to share knowledge, ideas, or skills that

    • Helped them complete the challenge.
    • They learned while researching or when designing their models.
  • Have students clean up the sets and work areas.


(Whole Class, 5 minutes)

  • Ask guiding questions to elicit students’ thinking and their decisions while ideating, building, and programming.

Observation Checklist

  • Review the learning objectives (Teacher Support box).

  • Share specific student responses and behaviors at different levels of mastery.

  • Use the checklist to observe students’ progress:

    • They identify at least two sources for research.
    • They use research information to describe one way that individual communities use science ideas to protect the environment.
    • They build and program a model of their chosen community action.

Have each student choose the brick that they feel best represents their performance。

  • Blue brick: I think I can follow instructions to create a program.
  • Yellow brick: I can follow instructions to create a program.
  • Green brick: I can follow instructions to create a program, and I can help a friend do it too.

In their small groups, have your students discuss their experiences working together.
Encourage them to use statements like these:

  • I liked it when you…
  • I’d like to hear more about how you…


Simplify this lesson by:

  • Reducing the research task to a limited list of community actions to protect the environment.

Increase the difficulty by:

  • Requiring that programs respond to user input in some way, for example the recycling model makes a sound when it detects a recyclable material. If students have built that model, require them to add a second user input response.


  • Have students research another way in which individual communities use science to protect Earth’s resources and environment. Have them share their findings through a short oral presentation or poster.

If facilitated, this will extend beyond the 45-minute lesson.

Language Arts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.7

Teacher Support

Students will:

  • Identify at least two sources for research.
  • Use research to describe one way individual communities use science ideas to protect the environment.
  • Create a model of their chosen community action.

(one for every two students)

  • LEGO® Education SPIKE Essential Set
  • Device with the LEGO Education SPIKE App installed
  • See Prepare - Materials
  • NGSS 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
  • CSTA 1B-AP-15
  • NGSS 3-5-ETS1-1
  • ISTE 1.4.c

Language Arts Extension


Student Material

Student Worksheet

Download, view, or share as an online HTML page or a printable PDF.