Elephant in the Room: Students Learning Science through Exhibit Design

IVC Showcase: Cathy Ryan-Smith, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo with Jason Schafer

In this session, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo gave an overview of their videoconference programs, specifically a session on exhibit design. They are redesigning their elephant exhibit, so they brought the students at Springmill Intermediate in Mansfield, OH to participate in the design.

With this program, the Springmill Intermediate principal approached the Cleveland Zoo to integrate their changes with the math, science and technology curriculum for their students. The project they created included students designing their own exhibit.

The program included:

  • a proposal and approval from everyone
  • a Professor Wylde Animal Presentation (a traveling animal show)
  • 5 videoconference sessions: Exhibit Design, Animal Care, Horticulture, Education, Guest  Relations
  • and a field trip to the zoo

I really like the combination of on site visit at school, on site visit at the zoo, and the videoconference sessions; along with the inquiry learning and student designed projects/exhibits.

Students asked some great questions during the programs:

  • What tools are used to trim an animal’s feet?
  • How do zoo keepers handle elephants when they get scared?

Students had to take notes during the sessions so they could use the information later as they designed their exhibits.

How awesome – the Cleveland Zoo got a picture of the ISTE Blue Bear during one of their videoconferences.

Then we got to talk to one of the teachers involved in the program – and she told about her students’ reaction and engagement in the project and showed examples of the student work.

Cleveland Zoo programs are FREE!!

Note also that their registration opens on August 2, and their programs fill up very quickly, so make plans to get in!

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