NC ZOO Creates New Educational Programs for Schools

05/30/2018
STUDENT TRAVEL

When is the last time you visited the North Carolina Zoo? Whether it is with your family and friends or as part of a school field trip, the Zoo has a lot to offer. As the official zoo of the state of North Carolina, we have animals ranging from the pine barrens tree frog (the state frog of N.C.) to elephants and polar bears. The combination of incredible animals and large natural areas gives guests the opportunity to connect with wildlife, nature and the environment in ways many other zoos cannot offer. 

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If you are not familiar with the North Carolina Zoo, our focus is to protect wildlife and wild places and inspire people to join us in conserving the natural world. The Zoo believes nature’s diversity is critical for our collective future. And we believe that all people should have the chance to personally connect with wildlife.

The Zoo consists of 2,200 acres located just south of Asheboro in Randolph County—in the heart of North Carolina. Approximately 500 of these acres have been developed into the world’s largest natural habitat Zoo, where we create life-changing, fun, family-friendly experiences. Our dedicated team of experts–biologists, animal care specialists and veterinarians–provide exceptional, compassionate care for our more than 1,600 animals.

As you can imagine, education is central to the mission of the Zoo, specifically STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering) and environmental education. We provide hundreds of educational exhibits and programs that we hope inspire a lasting curiosity about animals and a passion for protecting wildlife. In our exhibits and programs, we represent a wide variety of animals and habitats from around the world, along with the environmental issues that many of them face. This offers an unparalleled opportunity to provide exciting and compelling learning experiences that increase understanding of wildlife, sustainability and conservation, while also supporting requirements of North Carolina’s Standard Course of Study.

The Zoo offers a variety of opportunities for school and homeschools. Starting next fall, we will have even more experiences available for these groups, thanks to a grant that the North Carolina Zoological Society received from Wells Fargo. Below are a few of the things we offer schools (including state registered homeschools):

Free Visitation for North Carolina Schools

Did you know that North Carolina teachers can bring their students to the zoo for free from early September to early June? Out-of-state schools receive a discount on admission. All schools need to register their group 15 days in advance of their visit at our website (www.NCZoo.org). So bring your class for a visit!

School Programs – Edventures at the Zoo

While on a field trip to the Zoo why not participate in one of our Edventure programs. These 30 to 45-minute programs provide an in-depth look at some of the wildlife that calls our Zoo home and what makes these animals special. We offer five different programs – Kitera Explorations: A Wild Look at Chimpanzees, Trekking through a Tropical Forest, Watani Wonders: All About Elephants and Rhinos, and Our Rocky Coast. Each program is $60 and is designed for up to 30 students. We also offer Zoo-to-you Edventures, where we bring a program to your school. Please check the website to learn more about the program.

Kidzone

This is our nature play space, which is designed to help children 2 to 10 years old to explore nature in their own way. School groups are invited to spend time in Kidzone, but due to space limitations, we do limit the number of groups in the space at one time. We also recommend setting aside at least 30 minutes for a visit to Kidzone so your students can immerse themselves into the experience.

Animal Ambassador Encounters

Come and meet one of our feathery, furry, or scalely animal ambassadors. From April to October, we offer animal encounters Wednesday through Sunday in Kidzone, weather dependent. Please check the sign out front of Kidzone for daily times. Best of all, you don’t have to be a kid to participate!

(New) Checkout a Free Inquiry Pack for K-5th Grade Teachers (available fall 2018)

In an effort to enhance the learning experience of the thousands of students who visit us each year on field trips, we will be offering “inquiry packs” starting in fall 2018. These backpacks will include all the supplies and materials you need to complete two to three activities with your class during a visit to the Zoo. The activities are designed to meet the North Carolina Essential Standards for grades K-5. For example, the third-grade activities will focus specifically on plants. Students will compare plants from the desert, swamp, or rainforest (our aviary) with our native plants. They will be asked to identify the parts of the plants and investigate the adaptations to each of these environments through hands-on activities. These backpacks will be available for checkout on a first-come, first-served basis. 

(New) Free Distance Learning Events for Middle School and High School (starting fall 2018)

We know not every class can make it to the Zoo, so in an effort to offer more opportunities to schools across North Carolina and beyond we are enhancing our distance-learning programs. We will be producing a series of interactive social media events that will be accompanied by hands-on activities that teachers can do in the classroom or schoolyard titled, Living with Nature.

Living with Nature will use a case-study approach to present environmental and wildlife issues to students using several of our conservation initiatives. We will produce four live one-hour events each year. Recordings will be available online if your class cannot tune in for the live event. Each event will focus on a different environmental topic that ties back to several of the case studies.

In the 2018-19 academic year, our scientists and educators will present four events focused on:

  • Sustainable Practices
  • North Carolina Wildlife Conservation
  • International wildlife conservation
  • Animal behavior and biology

In the Works ...

Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but we have even more exciting plans around the corner. Coming soon, the Zoo will be adding a variety of new experiences, including virtual reality, that you can choose to participate in on your next trip to see us.

Maybe you’ll choose to go to the wilds of Africa, allowing you to see some of the wildlife we have in their natural habitats. Or maybe you’ll immerse yourself into a story as a park ranger trying to stop a poacher in Zambia. Never played an augmented reality game before? Imagine playing a video game on the landscape. Want your character to move to a location? Then you must move to that location. This augmented reality game will lead you around our Africa exhibit in an exciting adventure you can play on your Apple or Android devices.

We hope that these amazing and diverse opportunities have enticed you to consider the North Carolina Zoo for your next field trip. If you want to learn more about any of these experiences and others that we offer, please visit our website (nczoo.org). We look forward to seeing you soon!
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Issue 20.1 | Spring 2018

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