Professional Development Opportunities

The Zoo offers a variety of professional development opportunities for teachers. Check out the programs below.

STEM at the Zoo: Intro to the ZOOMS Design Challenge

Tuesday, August 6, 2024 from 9 am – 3 pm

• Grade 3-12 Teachers
• FREE
• 6 CEUs

This hands-on training is geared towards new teachers curious about joining the ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge or returning ZOOMS teachers looking for more support on how to better facilitate classroom and field trip supporting activities to lead students through the enrichment or exhibit design process. Participants will leave this training with a deeper understanding of how STEM is used at the Zoo in animal enrichment, exhibit design, and wildlife conservation as well as how to incorporate activities that integrate STEM concepts into their curriculum, based on the Minnesota State Science Standards.

*Participants do not need to be registered for the ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge to attend.

ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge Teacher Training

Registration will open in May 2024

In Person or Virtual Training Options
• Grade 3-12 Teachers
• FREE
• CEUs available
• ZOOMS Challenge class sign-up is required to attend the training. The training is not required to participate in the challenge but is strongly recommended for new ZOOMS teachers.

In-Person Training at the Minnesota Zoo
Thursday, September 26, 2024 from 9 am – 3 pm

Virtual Training at the Minnesota Zoo
Saturday, September 21, 2024 from 9 am – 12 pm
*A recording of this training will be shared with teachers that are unable to attend.

The ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge presented by Flint Hills Resources offers students a chance to develop a solution to a ‘real’ problem faced by Zookeepers and staff at the Minnesota Zoo. From designing an enrichment, to building a model of a renovated animal exhibit, the problem will challenge students to use STEM to best solve the problem and present a solution. Registered teachers will receive access to this free Zoo training to learn about the design challenge background and animals (virtual or in-person options), challenge supporting curriculum resources for both in-person and digital learning, and ongoing implementation support throughout the school year from Zoo education staff. You can sign up for the training date of your choice when you register for the design challenge.

Show Us Your Mussels Challenge Teacher Training

Sponsored by

I Speak for Mussels!
An interdisciplinary project, Show Us Your Mussels Challenge offers students, grades 6–12, an opportunity to learn about the real problems facing our endangered native freshwater mussel populations and what community members can do to help. Students first learn how local water quality affects these important species, and the role of mussels in maintaining a healthy aquatic system. Students then create digital media campaigns to highlight what they have learned and encourage community members to act.

A great way to combine science, communication, technology, and awareness of human impact on the environment.

In February the challenge goes live! Schools post their projects online educating and encouraging the community to vote for their campaign. The top five winning schools, based on the number of votes in combination with the highest reach win a FREE field trip to the Minnesota Zoo which includes an interactive session with our Zoo staff at the Mussel cabin.

Resources for Teachers!
Teachers receive resources and support from the zoo to ensure a meaningful experience for all. This includes free lesson plans aligned to the national and state standards, as well as free professional development and an engaging classroom visit by one of the Zoo staff to get students excited about this project.

NEW! The H.E.R.P. Project

Three Day Training and Conservation Action Project

June 25-27, 2024 from 9 am-3 pm
• Grade K-5 Teachers
• $75
• 18 CEUs available
• Breakfast and lunch are provided each day

With its 10,000+ lakes and miles of winding river, Minnesota is a paradise for freshwater turtles and many other wildlife species. There are nine species of freshwater turtles that call Minnesota home, but unfortunately, freshwater turtles today face a variety of threats that are putting their future in Minnesota at risk.

Join the Minnesota Zoo for this new program to find out more about these creatures that share our state and how to engage your students in taking on a real conservation action project to Help MN freshwater turtles and wildlife, Engage their community, Raise Awareness, and Preserve wetlands in our state.

As part of this training, teachers will receive hands-on conservation science training from Zoo education naturalists and the Minnesota Zoo’s Turtle Conservation Biologist. Teachers will also receive ongoing support throughout the school year from Zoo staff and access to a collection of digital turtle education resources to help lead students to the student-driven culminating conservation project in Spring 2025.

Registration Period: September 1, 2023 - May 20, 2024

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