Unless otherwise noted, these programs do not include a live animal ‘meet and greet.’

STEM Careers: Engineering Animal Enrichment

Using animal enrichment, keepers create zoo environments that provide a stimulating life for our animals, with opportunities to engage in natural behavior, be more active and have more control over their environment. Enrichment helps satisfy both the physical and psychological needs of animals and allows them to make choices. In this hands-on class, students themselves will go through the part of the process of how zoo keepers use a modified version of the engineering thought cycle called the SPIDER framework to create their own prototypes of new enrichment items. A short tour to see enrichment at the Zoo is also included.

Program Length: 3 hours, Available September through December; April through Memorial Day

Audience: 6th-12th

Group size: 25

Program fee: $300 ($225 ZMD)

NGSS: MS-LS1-8; MS-ETS1-1,2,3,4; HS-LS2-7,8; HS-ETS1-2,3

Keeper Creativity: Engineering for Animals

Do you love getting surprise packages or new toys? The animals do too, and it is healthy for them! At the Zoo we call it enrichment. Enrichment can cause animals to move around more, use their senses more and keep their brains busy. In this class, students will learn what we use enrichment for and how we create new enrichment. They will have an opportunity to brainstorm and draw their own version of animal enrichment, and meet an animal from our Children’s Zoo and learn how it uses enrichment.

Program Length: 45 minutes, available September through December; April through Memorial Day

Audience: 1st-5th

Group size: 25

Program fee: $80 ($65 ZMD)

NGSS: K-2-ETS1-1, 2; 3-LS4-3; 4-LS1-2


Humans have long looked to nature for inspiration, particularly in regards to sustainability.  In this program, students will explore the foundations of biomimicry and principles of nature, as well as how the natural world can help humans with conservation.  Students will also have the opportunity to start engineering their own inspired idea.

Program Length: 2 hours, Available September through December; April through Memorial Day

Audience: 6th-9th grade

Group size: 25

Program fee: $200 ($150 ZMD)

NGSS: MS-PS1-3; MS-LS1-4,7; MS-LS2-3,4,5; MS-ESS3-3; MS-ETS1-1,2,3,4; HS-LS2-7; HS-ESS3-1,3,4; HS-ETS1-1,2

Conservation in Action: Turtle Tracking

In this program, students will learn about how the Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Medicine (ICM) is working locally with box turtles to study their long-term movement and health by comparing ‘city’ versus ‘country’ turtles.   The program includes an introductory classroom portion on Zoo grounds; then students will go into Forest Park and, using telemetry equipment, will actually find the turtles that are part of the study. 

Please note: groups must provide their own transportation around Forest Park to the study site.  All students must wear appropriate clothing (long-pants) and close-toed walking shoes. During brummation season (roughly November through April, weather dependent) the students will not see a live turtle (since they will be hiding in their hibernaculums!) in Forest Park, but they can still track to where they are brummating.

A portion of the program fee goes directly to the Institute for Conservation Medicine.

Program Length: 2 ½ hours, available September through December; April through Memorial Day
NOTE: Only one tracking experience is available each week, so book early.

Audience:  2nd-5th grade

Group size: 25 max (students will be divided into two groups of 12 or 13 for the tracking portion)

Program fee: $365 ($295 ZMD)

NGSS: 2-LS4-1; 3-LS4-3, 4; 5-ESS3-1