Build & Design a Zoo Games

Instructor: Kandi Young

Kandi has degrees in Communications, Human Services, Education and Computer Science. She is a Business, Marketing, and Technology instructor with a Master's degree in Education.

Want to challenge your students to apply STEM skills to a real world scenario in a fun and engaging way? This lesson provides several games and activities that involve building and designing a zoo while incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math skills.

Why Build and Design a Zoo?

Students often complain that STEM lessons are boring. Science, technology, engineering, and math are essential skills for everyday success. The use of a fun scenario, such as building a zoo, helps students learn and apply skills in these important areas. Let's look at several different activities that you can try with your classroom.

Creating an Animal Habitat

Materials: design software or materials for creating the habitats

For this activity, start out by asking: Have you ever been to a zoo and wondered who got to design the awesome jungle the lions are housed in or why the monkeys can't escape from their treetop heights?

Point out that there are many factors to consider when creating the living environments in a zoo, such as area size, containment features like moats or fences, and access to the animals for everyday care.

Now, allow students to choose one animal to create a habitat for at the zoo. They may need to do a little research beforehand. Students need to think about size, containment features, access, cost, and materials needed to create the habitat. After they have found their animal, they will create a proposal and submit it to you for approval. Once you approve the plan, allow students to use physical materials or computer software to create their design. To add a competitive edge to this game, you could choose to have a competition for your builders and allow the students to vote on their favorite habitat with the winner receiving a prize.

Enrichment Activities

Point out how animals, much like humans, become bored! For example, have you ever seen a panther pacing along a well-worn path in their habitat? Most likely this animal is lacking a variety of activities in its daily routine. Have students think of the toys for dogs that treats are placed inside to challenge the dog to find a way to get it out. This is an example of an enrichment activity for an animal.

In this game, group students and allow them to create an enrichment project for a zoo animal of their choosing. To begin the project, the groups will submit a proposal to you. Once the proposal has been approved, students will need to create a physical, working prototype of their invention. They need to research their chosen animal and consider things such as natural environment, instincts, diet, and abilities for their design. To make this a competitive game, you could hold a reveal night and allow groups to showcase their designs, possibly having patrons voting on the top three designs.

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