A Turtle-Tastic Glade by Team Turtle-Tastic

Zola C. & Kensleigh S. – 5th Graders from Sally Ride Elementary School

Building a Habitat for Red-Eared Slider Turtles

Team Turtle-tastic members – Zola (left) and Kensleigh (right) – with their completed turtle Critter Comfort Cottage during one of their LIVE Critter Tests. A live red-eared slider turtle is seen inside the water enjoying the habitat that was created.

We had so much fun working together with the challenge we gave ourselves of piecing together a habitat only with items we had available in our garages or recycling bins. It felt good to be able to re-use and re-purpose different materials. We learned a lot during the course of this project and are excited for you to read more about the process and results!

Team Turtle-tastic from FSEC Energy Research Center on Vimeo.

Team Design Video

Hi! My name’s Kensleigh. And my name is Zola, but together we’re Team Turtle~Tastic!!! We decided to build our habitat for Red Eared Slider Turtles because some people are getting wrong information about how long they live and how much space they need, this causes them to release the Red Eared Slider into the wild. As a result the Red Eared Slider has become one of the most invasive species, according to the global invasive species database They pose an extreme risk not just to native turtles but to other native wildlife and possibly even humans. We made our design because it resembled the red-eared slider’s natural habitat. Turtle owners can put them in HERE, instead of releasing them into the wild. This will help prevent them from becoming more invasive. One special feature is the filter or waterfall, it keeps the water clean and aerated. Another special feature is the basking rocks. The turtles need to bask in order to have good health. We also have two grottos. One for her on land and another is in the water for her to hide. There is also a plant holder to provide natural scenery. We worked together to cut the grass so the turtle can have space for land. We also glued plastic cups to the bottom of the grass to help elevate it out of the water. We used rocks to block her from going under the grass and because they are in her natural habitat. We used several recycled materials in our design, such as an old kiddy pool as the base, plastic cups and bio-straws to keep up the fake grass, and two empty plastic laundry detergent containers as grottos, an old fish tank waterfall and copper wires to hold up the planter. The filter can run because we have a rechargeable battery. Instead of setting your turtles free – stay at the glade where they’re meant to be!

Research and Design Planning

We did a lot of reading and research to help us when planning for our animal and the habitat to create.

List of Works Cited/Used in Research

Zola even found a sign at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that stated “Be Responsible!” Never release unwanted pets into the wild. They can have harmful effects on the local ecosystem.”

Construction and Design Documentation

We worked together using a variety of recycled and reused materials to create a comfortable habitat for a red-eared slider turtle. Here are photos documenting our construction and design process. We will highlight the various materials that we utilized, and provide some close-up pictures below

Design & Overcoming Challenges

The first challenge we gave ourselves was to not purchase any new materials when creating our critter comfort cottage. We started off our design process by asking our parents what materials were available to us. We took some plastic items out of our recycling bins to see if we may be able to re-purpose them and gathered other random items our parents permitted for us to reuse from our garages.

One of the biggest challenges we had when designing was finding a way to create an incline for the turtle to be able to get in and out of the water. We knew we wanted to use the patch of fake grass to help us with this, but had to figure out a way to raise it little by little to give a safe and sturdy way for the turtle to go up and down. At first, we used only duct tape to attach plastic cups that were cut at different heights to the bottom of the fake grass. However, after our first test of the habitat with water, we realized that the duct tape was not as secure once it was submerged in water. We overcame this challenge by redesigning and and adding hot glue to secure the plastic cup pieces to the piece of fake grass. This held up much better during the subsequent habitat trials. We cut the fake grass into pieces to go with the shape of the kiddy pool and taped those together as well with duct tape.

Getting the Turtle-tastic Glade set up at school.
Adding hot glue reinforcement.

We did not purchase any new materials to create our habitat. All of the materials that we used were either items that were in our recycling bins that we were able to repurpose, or items that our parents had in our garages. It was a fun challenge to only use items that we had available to us!

List of Recycled/Reused Items used in construction:

#1. Plastic kiddy pool (For the base)

#2. Two laundry detergent containers (The grottos for land & water)

#3. An old filter and battery (The waterfall)

#4. Plant holder, held by a copper wire (Plants for natural scenery)

#5. Plastic cups to hold up the Fake Grass (To keep it above the water)

#6. Shells (To provide scenery)

#7. Rocks & fake grass (For the turtle to sun bathe)

We also used hot glue, duct tape, and plastic bio-straws during construction.

  • Special thanks to the following people for their incredible support of our project: Our moms (Alba C. & Kelly V.) and our gifted teacher (Mrs. Berriz)

Critter Test Documentation

Critter Test Observation LogEvidence of Test
We set up all of the pieces of the Turtle-Tastic Glade outside and filled it with water.
Once the kiddy pool base was filled with some water, we carefully placed the turtle inside.
We observed the turtle as it explored the habitat. She seemed to particularly like the grottos. Here she can be seen enjoying both the water grotto and the land grotto. We were happy to see her using these for long periods of time.
The turtle was able to successfully climb up and down the incline that was created using the plastic cups under the fake grass pieces. It remained sturdy as the ventured in and out of the water, up and and down the grass ramp we created.
Here are a few videos of our critter test!

Turtle Test 3 from FSEC Energy Research Center on Vimeo.

Turtle Test 2 from FSEC Energy Research Center on Vimeo.

Turtle Test 1 from FSEC Energy Research Center on Vimeo.


When it comes to advertisements, our team decided to make two.

This first video shows an advertisement we created that is catered to turtles as the audience. Then the second video is just a close-up of our advertisement geared towards getting red-eared slider turtles to want to move into our critter comfort cottage, the Turtle-tastic Glade. Finally, the third video is the advertisement that we made with people as the audience.

Advertisement for Turtles from FSEC Energy Research Center on Vimeo.

Turtle Ad Close-Up from FSEC Energy Research Center on Vimeo.

Overall, the turtle seemed to really enjoy the Critter Comfort Cottage that we created! We are very happy with the results!
Zola’s family has a pet red-eared slider turtle, named “Bintah” that was utilized for critter testing of the habitat.

Members washed hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the turtle.

Thanks for visiting our website! 

9 thoughts on “A Turtle-Tastic Glade by Team Turtle-Tastic

  • What a great idea for a project! I liked the use of recycled projects and your research to educate people about how returning pets to the wild can become invasive species. This is an important topic, especially here in Florida! Thank you!

  • Amazing work ladies!!!!
    Being resourceful is a great skill.
    Caring for animals and our planet is a great and positive objective for this project.

  • Amazing job girl. My favorite animal are turtle!!! Over the years I have informed to other the correct care for them. But did not know that the Red-Eared Slider Turtles were causing harm to our ecosystem. Thank for this information…

  • Such great team work! Team Turtle-tastic did the WORK! It looks like they took such care and had such passion for this project. It doesn’t look at all like someone else decided on this project for them. They did the research, the tough work of building the habitat, understanding how turtles must feel when they are released and they even used all recycled materials. You two ladies did an excellent job with the observation and taught us a bunch in the process. This looks like it was oodles of fun! Thanks, Zola and Kensleigh!

  • Wow what an incredible amount of thought, research and time dedicated to this project and educating people on not releasing red slider turtles or any animals into the wild after they’ve been your pets. Incredible job young scientists!

  • This is amazing! The fact that you took unwanted items and turned it into a beautiful habitat for a turtle is awesome. I can really see the thought and hard work that was put into this project! Good Job!!

  • Your turtle critter comfort cottage project is truly remarkable! Not only have you girls created a welcoming habitat for an invasive species, but your dedication to correcting misconceptions shows great understanding and compassion for these creatures. Keep up the incredible work in promoting education and conservation efforts!

  • I am so impressed with your ability to use all reused and recycled materials to make a home for this little turtle! Way to go, girls! Awesome work!

  • These girls’s passion for science, animals, and research is endless! They spent long hours for months to collect data and get their results.
    Congratulations little Scientists!!! The world needs people like you so we all can learn how to take care of our beautiful planet!!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *