ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge

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!

2024-2025 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 2024-2025 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 ‘Classroom Sign Up - Click Here!’ link below the design challenge descriptions by Friday, November 15th, 2024. If you would also like to attend a ZOOMS teacher training, please register by visiting the Professional Development webpage linked in the section below.

ZOOMS Design Challenge Teacher Training Options - FREE!

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!
*If you plan to attend a training, you will need to BOTH register for the training on the Zoo’s professional development website and sign up your class to participate using the ‘Class Sign Up Now’ form linked below the design challenge descriptions.

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

Virtual Training on Zoom Platform
Saturday, September 21, 2024 from 9 am-12 pm

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

White-Cheeked Gibbon Enrichment Design Challenge

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

The Tropics Trail is home to a variety of endangered species, including the Zoo’s resident pair of white-cheeked gibbons, Bailey and Tia. Bailey is a 30-year-old easy going male who moved to the Zoo in October 2001, while Tia, a 27-year-old female, was born at the Minnesota Zoo and is more particular about what she likes and dislikes. As primates, they are highly intelligent and their need to be challenged through enrichment requires Zookeepers to provide a wide variety of enrichment that provides stimulating experiences to encourage their natural behaviors and senses. While their habitat at the Zoo, Gibbon Island, provides branches for brachiating, Zookeepers are looking for unique enrichment that not only encourage this behavior, but also challenges them to forage more frequently. Even more ideal, Zookeepers would love to find ways to provide enrichment in easier and more efficient ways throughout the day!

Gibbon Island Exhibit Redesign Challenge

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

The white-cheeked gibbon habitat, or ‘gibbon island’, is a favorite spot for Zoo guests to stop along the Tropics Trail. The exhibit features Tia and Bailey, a bonded gibbon pair, along with a variety of Tropical birds including flamingos. Because of the moat design and the high-level needs for these intelligent primates and mixed bird species, caring for the exhibit and the animals is a challenge for Zookeepers. This space has also existed since the Zoo opened in 1978, and Zoo leaders have identified the exhibit for an upgrade as part of a future project. They would like to start gathering creative ideas and solutions to consider as they begin to plan what the new space could look like. As part of those solutions, they are looking for ways to make more efficient husbandry solutions for Zookeepers, expand and improve the habitat for the gibbons to brachiate more dynamically, and ensure our guests continue to enjoy the habitat and learn about the conservation issues facing these species in the wild in engaging and immersive ways.

The ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge is Sponsored By

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