Blank Park Zoo Professional Development
for 2016

The Blank Park Zoo would once again like to invite educators to professional development opportunities that will be held at Blank Park Zoo on the dates listed below.  The workshops are good for one hour of license renewal credit and teachers will be eligible to schedule a free classroom animal program.  Our education department is willing and able to travel to districts across the state with our classroom programs (animals included!). 

Participants in our workshops engage in relevant inquiry investigations that are connected to the Next Generation Science Standards and Iowa Core, learn research-based instructional practices, and gain knowledge and ideas that will be useful in their classrooms. Lessons are flexible, allowing teachers to adjust for their students’ abilities; and relate to all age groups in several subject areas (science, literacy, mathematics, social studies, and the arts). 

Workshop Descriptions: 

Pollinators: Birds do it; Bees do it...and so do Lemurs and Lizards! – This course will explore plants and the animals that pollinate them.  Participants will engage in explorations about bees, butterflies and other animal pollinators and their importance in our lives; interrelationships in ecosystems; agricultural engineering; and ways to help protect our pollinator species. 

Patterns in Nature – This course will explore patterns in nature using science, mathematics, art, and literature.  Participants will gain knowledge about camouflage, biomimicry, aposematism, fractals, Fibonacci, and sound and movement patterns in plant and animal populations. 

Ecosystems – (New workshop!) Ecosystems are comprised of living and non-living factors linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows, including predator/prey relationships; survival mechanisms; and water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles.  In this workshop, participants will learn about interactions in ecosystems and how to build and maintain an ecosystem using common, easily obtained materials. Workshop strategies will include a phenomena and driving question and will highlight the practices, cross cutting concepts, and engineering principles in the Next Generation Science Standards. Concepts presented in this workshop best fit grade levels 5-12 

Habitats and Adaptations – This course will utilize art, math, geography and science to explore ecology, specifically focusing on animal adaptations and different habitats, with visits from live animals from various ecosystems.  Lessons are flexible, allowing teachers to adjust for their students’ abilities; and relate to all age groups in several subject areas. 

Biomimicry and Inspiration – (New workshop!) Biomimicry is a growing field of scientific inquiry and technological application to the real world. It can inspire students’ interest in science, the natural world, and the built environment while teaching skills in observation, research, and critical thinking.  Participants will engage in activities introducing biologically inspired technology, why it is important (and fascinating!), and provide them with opportunities to research their own solutions to human or environmental challenges. This workshop is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, particularly those regarding engineering solutions 

Zoo Structure and Design – Educators will learn about the structure of Blank Park Zoo, its history, present state, and future plans, as well as opportunities to use technology to connect classrooms and the zoo. Behind the scenes experiences in several parts of the zoo will allow participants to gain a deeper understanding about what it takes to provide for the needs of animals in captivity. Activities will include designing a zoo exhibit that demonstrates knowledge of species habitats, adaptations, and requirements, and utilizes engineering practices found in the Next Generation Science Standards. All experiences are aligned to the NGSS and the Iowa Core.

Cost: $20.00 to help cover materials and meals, payable at workshop; credit fees if taking for credit


Included in workshop: Meals (dinner on Friday night and continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday), materials for teachers to utilize in their classrooms, and an opportunity to schedule a free classroom visit or program at the zoo.

Workshops will run Friday from 4-9:30 and Saturday from 8 – 5:30


Dates and Topics:


Academic Year 2016/2017

September 9/10, 2016 – Pollinators: Birds Do It, Bees Do It…and So Do Lemurs and Lizards! 

October 7/8, 2016 – Ecosystems (New Workshop!!) 

November 11/12, 2016 – Patterns in Nature 

January 13/14, 2017 – Habitats and Adaptations 

February 24/25, 2017 – Biomimicry and Inspiration (New Workshop!!) 

April 7/8, 2017 – Zoo Structure and Design

 Registration forms may be found on the zoo website – under Education/Just for Teachers.  They may be submitted electronically.

Participants should contact Kathy McKee at 515-974-2557; or Angela Tague, 515-974-2546;  if they have any questions. 

We look forward to working with you!
Kathy McKee and Angela Tague
K-12 Education Manager and K-12 Education Specialist
Blank Park Zoo
7401 SW 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50315