Empowering Student Innovation for a Clean Energy Future

The Ninja Turtles

Our Critter Cottage!

Team Name: Ninja Turtles
School: Milwee Middle School
Participants: Rudy C., Eli F., Diya P., and Kamila Y. 
Grade: All team members are in 8th grade
Critter: Box Turtle

Our team first started to design the build and think about what materials to use for the build, and we came up with some environmentally friendly materials such as redwood, cardboard, plant based Styrofoam, and natural twigs. We did not end up using all these materials.

Materials Used:

  • Cardboard
  • Sand
  • Rocks
  • Plastic Tubs
  • Plants
  • Velcro
  • Saran Wrap
  • Bulletin Board Paper

1. Identify the Problem: First our team was given a problem to solve, build a sustainable, environmentally friendly home for our critter. With this in mind, we decided to go with an animal that a lot of people have. A turtle.

2. Brainstorm Solutions: After we knew what we had to build, we started to think about numerous ways to solve our issue such as building a cardboard home or using a tank. We came up with many more ideas, but in the end we decided to go with the cardboard home.

3. Develop a Solution: Once we narrowed down our ideas, we made a sketch for each one. In the sketch, we designed the layout of where things would go on the inside. After the sketch, we decided on which solution we liked best, and from there, we designed a technical drawing for the one we chose.

4. Construct and Test Prototype: After we designed our final solution, we started to construct it. We then chose the layout for the interior and what color we would wrap the box in.

5. Evaluate Solution: After we designed the cottage, we made sure that nothing was wrong and that everything will work as planned. We made a couple of changes to the interior and fixed some tiny mistakes.

6. Present Solution: We presented our solution to the judges. We explained how this is a sustainable home for a turtle, and how it is convenient and eco-friendly.

In these photos, we have a rough idea of how we want the interior to be.

Picture 1- In picture 1, the blue represents the pool of water for the turtle to cool off in. The green is going to be plants and vegetation. The black is the ramps for the turtle to get in and out of the pools. The white is soil, dirt, and some rocks. In the top left corner, there is a carboard cave for the turtle to go under whenever it feels.

Picture 2- In picture 2, The purple is rocks. The green is plants. The black dot is where the food will be, and the yellow will be dirt.

In order for the turtle to get from side to side, we cut out part of the sun-exposed area, and slid the shaded area in. After that, we added a makeshift bridge.


We went through the rules and guidelines to understand what the prototype needed to be.


As a team we started to discuss the possible animals that we wanted to do for our critter cottage.


We discussed various animals and did research to find a good fit for our idea.


As a team we decided that we wanted to do a box turtle as our animal.


After our team decided to do a box turtle we all started to research about the animal and various eco and environmentally friendly materials.


We started to gather our recycled items from our teachers classroom and through our campus.


On this day we had started to design our layout with our boxes and figuring out a way for the turtle to have plenty of room and a nice area to hang in.


As the team started to officially start building. Some of our team members started to work on the website while the others made sure to use as many recycled items as we could.


The team on this day really focused on the items that we were recycled in our instructors classroom. Our project started to really come along with the items we had.


Our team was making the exterior of the critter cottage better because we ran into some complications because the structure was not stable.


After the team went through some complications while working through the day, we were finally able to create a nice stable structure. We also worked on making the website.


Our structure so far consisted of a box with a shaded area and a window, with the other side of our structure open on the top so the structure could get sunlight.


The team together worked on doing our final touches for the decorating portion of our prototype. The team together also did the finishing touches for our video and website. The team worked hard together to get the finishing touches on our website to get submitted. We are now making sure that our poster, brochure, and making sure that our prototype was good for the competition!

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