ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge

Join us for the 10th Anniversary of ZOOMS this school year!

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 their science and math knowledge, creativity, problem solving, and research skills during the engineering design process in order to best solve the problem and present a solution. Selected students are invited to showcase their design challenge solution in the ZOOMS Design Exhibition in March at the Minnesota Zoo!

See the ZOOMS Design Challenge in Action!

2023-2024 ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge

If you are a grade 3-12 teacher looking for ways to engage your students in authentic integrated STEM, join the ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge presented by Flint Hills Resources for the 2023-2024 school year! Participation is completely free! ZOOMS teachers receive access to digital resources, support throughout the school year from Zoo staff and access to free teacher trainings. To learn more about the ZOOMS design challenges for this school year, view the Enrichment and Exhibit Design Challenge Guidelines below.

Sign up your class to participate by clicking the ‘Sign Up Now!’ link below the design challenge descriptions by Friday, November 17th.

ZOOMS Design Challenge Teacher Training Options

Learn about the design challenges and the animals your students will be designing for! Hear directly from the Zookeepers, visit the animal spaces, and learn about resources you can use to support your students!

In Person Training at the Minnesota Zoo
September 28, 2023 from 9 am-3 pm

Virtual Training on Zoom Platform
September 30, 2023 from 9 am-12 pm

NEW for 2023!
STEM at the Zoo: Intro to the ZOOMS Design Challenge

*Design Challenge class sign-up not required to attend.
If you are a new teacher who has never done the ZOOMS challenge before, this training will overview how to use the Zoo to teach STEM, overview the ZOOMS Challenge process, and allow teachers a chance to practice supporting activities such as animal behavior ethograms, enrichment exploration, exhibit use studies, and more. This training is meant to give teachers broader knowledge of the Zoo before participating in the ZOOMS Challenge trainings in the fall.

In-Person Training at the Minnesota Zoo
August 8, 2023 from 9 am-3 pm

Bison and Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Enrichment Design Challenge

Level 1: 3rd – 5th Grade
Level 2: 6th – 8th Grade
Level 3: 9th – 12th Grade

A portion of the Northern Trail features a variety of prairie grassland animals that live in fluctuating social groups, including the American bison herd and Black-tailed prairie dog colony. The Zoo currently has 7 bison: 1 adult male Brutus and 3 adult females Green, Bea, and Betty whom each birthed 1 calf in 2022. The prairie dog colony is made up of 14 prairie dogs that are currently living behind the scenes awaiting an upgrade to their habitat. While Zookeepers already consider individual animal needs, they have the added challenge of accounting for the social dynamics of the group when both planning and introducing new enrichments. Northern Trail staff are looking for new and innovative ways to provide safe group-based enrichment that encourages natural behaviors while ensuring each member of the social group can benefit.

Treetop Trail Prairie Exhibits Redesign Challenge

Level 1: 3rd – 5th Grade
Level 2: 6th – 8th Grade
Level 3: 9th – 12th Grade

In the summer of 2023, the old monorail circuit will fully be transformed into the new Tree Top Trail. While this trail winds throughout many of the outdoor spaces at the Zoo, one portion of the trail will bump out to provide a new viewing perspective of the grassland prairie animals featuring the American Bison and Black-tailed prairie dog habitats. As Zoo leaders continue to imagine spaces to help better connect people to the natural world to save wildlife as part of their Pathway to Nature Masterplan, this section of the Treetop trail section now brings the bison and prairie dog habitats into focus for potential upgrades. With the fluctuating numbers of the Zoo’s Bison numbers as part of our partnership with the DNR management of the Minnesota Bison Conservation herd, and prairie dogs living behind the scenes while the habitat undergoes modifications, staff are hoping to see these spaces enhance zookeepers, animal, and visitor needs while highlighting our prairie conservation work with these species, including prairie butterflies which are bred and raised behind the scenes.

The ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge is Sponsored By

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