STEM at the Zoo!  

November 25, 2013
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is a wonderful resource for Nebraska educators who teach the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. Schools can connect with zookeepers directly via distance learning to explore topics like ocean conservation, genetics, camouflage, zoo careers, desert adaptations, and rain forest life. Teachers can also check out “zoo-to-you” trunks that include interactive activities, hands-on lessons, animal artifacts including sea shells, replica shark jaw, and penguin egg replicas, life-size animal prints of sea turtles or penguins, as well as videos and books. Additionally, the zoo maintains an extensive library of free digital resources including audio, video, and classroom materials.

Students can also actively participate in conservation research through two ongoing studies. The Amphibian Conservation Education Project aims to develop an understanding of how a mass decline of amphibians will affect the balance of nature; and to give area youth the opportunity to conduct a statewide amphibian survey to determine the viability of amphibian habitat and health. Through participating in the Amphibian Conservation Education Project, students are trained to monitor local amphibian populations and water quality, as well as test amphibians for Chytrid Fungus.

The second conservation research project that students can participate in is the Butterfly Citizen Science Project. Through this project, students will learn to monitor and count butterflies as well as maintain a butterfly database. By participating, citizen scientists are also able to provide researchers with useful data. Lepidopterists are able to utilize information collected from butterfly counts to pinpoint regions or species of interest for additional studies. There are also free downloadable lessons, activities, and identification guides available on the zoo’s Butterfly Conservation website.

Distance Learning Connections with Zookeepers:  Contact outreach@omahazoo.com to schedule a connection! Topics include but are not limited to the following:

•   Penguins
•   Ocean Life
•   Ocean Conservation
•   Rainforest Life
•   Desert Life
•   Desert Adaptations
•   Conservation Genetics
•   Reptiles
•   Camouflage
•   Zoo Careers

Zoo-to-You Trunk: Contact classes@omahazoo.com to reserve a trunk! Topics include penguins and oceans. The trunks contain the following:

•   Interactive activities
•   Hands-on lessons
•   Animal artifacts (examples include: sea shells,    replica shark jaw, or penguin egg replicas)
•   Life-size animal prints (example: sea turtles or penguins)
•   Videos and books

To view the complete list of resources and education programs, go to http://www.omahazoo.com/educators-corner