We are thrilled to present you with Sea Turtle-based lesson plans and activities for teaching STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Use these in conjunction with the Sea Turtle WebLessons or as part of your own curriculum.
As you test these lessons in your classroom, we would love to hear from you so we can improve our work. Please send us feedback using the mail icon on the left of this page. Thank you.
Many of our lessons include videos from behind the scenes at the Aquarium. You can find all of our videos in one place by visiting our YouTube page.
A comprehensive list of vocabulary for studying sea turtles.
Click here for the list as an editable document
A list of books about sea turtles.
Teach your students to use a KWLHQ sheet to keep track of what they already Know, what they Want to know, what they Learned, How they learned it (did they use books, the internet, etc), and what Questions they still have. Click here for the worksheet as an editable file.
Learn about the physical and behavioral adaptations that North Carolina reptile species possess.
Learn about the reptilian characteristics of sea turtles by creating a sea turtle, highlighting the characteristics of reptiles, such as a backbone and lungs.
Learn about the characteristics all turtles share and the special characteristics that make each type of turtle well adapted to its habitat.
Resources: Green Sea Turtle Picture; Loggerhead Sea Turtle Picture; Land Turtle Picture (box turtle); Aquatic Turtle Picture (terrapin)
Science, Art, Technology, English
Learn turtle species by each researching a different species and writing a research paper and an encyclopedia page. By the end of this lesson the class will have created a turtle encyclopedia. Click here for the worksheets as an editable file.
Brainstorm ways to help sea turtles and write promises on the shells of paper turtle hatchlings, which are then put in a paper nest.
English, Social Studies
Compare and contrast the geography, culture, and sea turtle conservation strategies of North Carolina and Belize. This lesson was developed as part of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Educators of Excellence Institutes. Click here for the worksheets as an editable file.
Learn about the tracks sea turtle mothers leave on the beach by making models of these tracks in sand or clay.
Click here for the datasheet as an editable file.
Use operations, logic and algebraic thinking to calculate the time sea turtles spend nesting and how many eggs they lay. Click here for the worksheet as an editable file.
Science, Engineering, Art, Math
Learn why scientists might need to move a sea turtle nest and how they do it without damaging the eggs. Students will simulate this procedure using “eggs” in “sand”. Click here for the worksheet as an editable file.
Science, Engineering, Art, Social Studies
Learn how scientists protect sea turtle nests by brainstorming and discussing the threats to nests and then building devices (covers and signs) to protect the nests.
Learn how gender in sea turtles is determined by the temperature of the eggs by designing an experiment to test the temperature of different colored sand. Graph those temperatures and calculate how many male and female sea turtles would hatch in those temperatures.
Designing an Experiment PDF.
Designing an Experiment editable file.
Science, Engineering, Math, Social Studies
Design methods to protect sea turtle hatchlings and help them reach the ocean, using the “Ask-Imagine-Plan-Create-Improve” design process.
Click here for the worksheet as an editable file.
Art, English/Language Arts
Learn about sea turtle life cycles and the threats turtles face from predators and hazards through an active game simulating the sea turtle’s life. Write and illustrate a story about sea turtle hatchlings.
Turtle Hurdles Activity.
Use mathematical reasoning to learn about the fates of sea turtle eggs by calculating the fraction of eggs that successfully hatch and comparing that fraction to the fraction that do not hatch.
Click here for the worksheet as an editable file.
Students will use temporal words to describe the process of building a sandcastle. They will explain why it is important to knock down their castle when they are finished building it.
Learn about sea turtle life cycles by labeling pictures of the different stages and putting them in order on a circle, to illustrate the cyclical nature of life. Compare the life cycle of a human to that of a sea turtle.
Learn about sea turtle food chains by building a sea turtle and then placing it in a food chain with phytoplankton, zooplankton, small fish and jellyfish.
Science, Social Studies
Learn about sea turtle eating habits by investigating the contents of a “sea turtle stomach”. Students will discuss items sea turtles eat that are good for them and items that are bad for them (such as plastic), and how we can prevent sea turtles from having access to trash items.
Science, Math, Technology
Learn how researchers determine who laid a nest by practicing DNA fingerprinting using actual sea turtle mother and nest DNA fingerprints. Students then graph the data from actual nests found on beaches in the tri-state area (NC, SC, GA). Click here for the worksheets as an editable file.
Learn about sea turtle camouflage by each coloring a sea turtle and matching sargassum. Students will then mix up the class’ turtles and help each turtle find the sargassum in which it can hide.
Science, Math, Art
Learn about feeding sea turtle hatchlings using a hatchling you build out of rocks and paint. Then weigh and measure your hatchling and calculate the amount of food it needs to grow, based on a chart.
Click here for the data sheets and shell patterns as an editable file.
Learn about albinism in sea turtles and other reptiles. Use Punnett squares to lay out the genetics of albinism (a recessive trait) and determine how often albinism should occur among the offspring of non-albino parents with recessive albinism genes.
Click here for pictures of an albino alligator, an albino alligator’s eye, an albino snapping turtle, another albino snapping turtle, a leucistic alligator, a leucistic alligator’s eye, a leucistic sea turtle, an amellanistic turtle, and an amellanistic turtle’s eye.
Learn about sea turtle growth by following the growth of the Loggerhead sea turtle ambassadors at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
Use the Ask‐Imagine-Plan‐Create‐Improve procedure to design, and build if desired, a method to separate a sea turtle (Shelldon) from the other animals in his large enclosure to ensure he can eat all his food without having to compete with the other animals.
Science, Art, English, Social Studies
Read the story of a sea turtle who was brought to the aquarium sick because he had ingested a balloon. You will discuss why sea turtles eat trash and how we can prevent other sea turtles from being injured in this way. Click here to access Womble’s Tale.
Write a narrative describing how you would spend a day as a turtle keeper at the aquarium. Click here for the worksheets as an editable file.