LEARNING EXPERIENCES at the Zoo
Please note: Woodland Park Zoo's Education Department has developed a new strategy for engaging schools in learning at the zoo. We no longer offer guided programs you can book for your class in advance – read below for more information on our exciting new zoo-based learning experiences. These changes have been made with input from local teachers, our experienced staff and volunteers, zoo colleagues across the country and regional science education experts, as well as by consulting the Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards (Next Generation Science Standards - NGSS)*.
Your Zoo Visit as a Science Learning Experience!
We suggest you choose one of the three suggested driving questions (see below) to frame your zoo visit. You can choose a driving question that relates to your science learning goals for your students, to current themes in your curriculum or you can ask your students which driving question is most interesting to them! You can have one driving question for the whole class, or students could form small groups and explore different driving questions, reporting back to the rest of the class after their zoo visit. The experiences your students have at the zoo will allow them to observe and gather evidence related to their question, so that you can lead follow-up activities and discussions in the classroom. The more invested your students are in the question, the more motivated they will be to seek evidence during their zoo visit.
Follow these steps once you’ve received your confirmation:
1. Consult the programming schedule to help select your zoo visit date – some programs are only offered on certain days of the week, so you may want to align your visit date with the programs you want your students to attend.
Seasonal learning experiences program schedules (Tuesdays-Fridays):
Fall (October/November) - (program schedules for fall 2017 will be posted before the start of the 2017-2018 school year)
Winter (December/January) - (program schedules for winter 2016-2017 will be posted in early November 2017)
Spring (February - April) - Tuesday- Thursday schedule & Friday schedule
Summer (May – September) (program schedule will be posted in early April 2017) Please note: Our summer program schedule includes a variety of programs and experiences schools can enjoy and learn from. However, summer programs and experiences are not designed to support our WPZ driving questions as the October-April programs are.
For daily program schedules for weekends or Mondays, please see Today at the Zoo.
All programs are free with zoo admission or membership except where noted. Activities are subject to cancellation. For the most up-to-date info, please check the daily activities kiosk at the zoo entrance when you visit.
2. See the FIELD TRIPS TO THE ZOO page for all the information you need to book your visit.
3. Once you’ve booked your visit and received your confirmation email, share the orientation videos with your chaperones and students to help prepare them with the logistical information needed for a successful zoo visit
4. Before your visit, download, copy and share the Teacher/Chaperone Map & Guide related to your driving question of choice with your chaperones (see below).
5. At the zoo, chaperones and their students can choose to visit two or more of the exhibit areas and programs suggested under the driving question, gathering evidence along the way.
You might develop a worksheet or have students journal during their visit to record their observations and build their evidence so that they can discuss their explanations back in the classroom.
Take advantage of Woodland Park Zoo’s mobile app and the web-based maps showing the programs, experiences and exhibits that tie to each of the driving questions:
6. Students should come away from their zoo visit with evidence to support their explanations that help to answer the driving question. They can also record any further questions they have related to the driving question. These can be good starting points for further investigation.
7. Engage your students in a discussion in the classroom, asking them to share their claims about potential explanations for the scientific phenomena addressed by the driving question, backing up their claims with evidence (the observations they made and information they gathered during their zoo experiences).
8. At any point, please contact us if you need help planning your visit or if you have feedback on your visit! You can call 206.548.2424 (option 2) or email email@example.com
The questions below have been developed with Washington’s Science Learning Standards (NGSS) in mind, with a focus on grades K-5. Woodland Park Zoo provides a rich context to support your students’ science learning by giving them opportunities to explore science content while building their capacity to:
Engage in the NGSS scientific practices of analyzing and interpreting data and obtaining, evaluating and communicating information (back in the classroom students can build on their zoo experiences to engage in the practices of developing and using models, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence).
Employ the NGSS cross-cutting concepts of patterns, cause and effect and systems & system models as lenses through which to observe the natural world
Each Teacher/Chaperone Map & Guide includes a “menu” of suggested learning experiences and exhibit areas that will provide your students with observations and information related to the driving question of focus:
For other materials to support your zoo visit or classroom learning, see our teacher resources page.
Whether you are exploring one of the driving questions above or not, you can fill your day with keeper talks, animal encounters and more! See the seasonal program schedules above for details. For a current listing of Daily Experiences at the zoo, please see the Today at the Zoo page. For the most up-to-date info, please check the daily activities kiosk at the zoo entrance when you visit.
All programs are free with zoo admission or membership except where noted. Activities are subject to cancellation.
*If you are a teacher new to NGSS, we highly suggest this short series of videos that demonstrates instructional strategies based on NGSS. Though these activities are classroom-based, the instructional strategies have informed the learning experiences we’ve designed for you here at Woodland Park Zoo! Watch the videos now!