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10 steps to an enriching summer

Posted by: Rob Goehrke, Education

A wolf receives an enrichment treat put together by Zoo Crew kids. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ

These are the words I heard after my class of 7th graders enjoyed a culminating experience at Woodland Park Zoo through our Zoo Crew program. Zoo Crew is designed to engage middle school youth from traditionally underserved communities in science and conservation enrichment activities. I had the chance to work with this particular group of kids during their 4-week summer camp through the YMCA, serving as one of their science teachers and guiding them through a program that was both enriching to them and the zoo’s animals.
Here’s the recipe:
Brown bear at Woodland Park Zoo. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ

Step 1: Each student choose one of four animals: gray wolf, brown bear, lowland anoa or kea
Step 2: As a group, research their animal’s habitat, diet, adaptations, conservation status and more

Step 3: Using the research, design an appropriate enrichment item that will stimulate the animal
Step 4: Present the design to an Animal Collection Manager from the zoo
Zoo Crew kids experiment with enrichment ideas. Photo by Rob Goehrke/WPZ

Step 5: Incorporating the feedback received, construct an enrichment item

Step 6: Write out directions for the zookeepers (e.g. what food goes in the item, where to put the item, etc.)

Step 7: Create a Prezi that shows their research and enrichment item
Zoo visitors stop for a presentation by Zoo Crew. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ

Step 8: Present their Prezi to passers-by at the zoo
The zoo's wolf pack enjoys enrichment made by Zoo Crew. Photo by Ryan Hawk/WPZ

Step 9: Watch as the animal enjoys its enrichment
Step 10: Share the pictures with their classmates and celebrate a great summer!

This post is modified from an article that originally appeared on the Washington STEM Blog, August 2012. Washington STEM is a generous supporter of Woodland Park Zoo’s Zoo Crew program.