Habitats and Adaptations: Teacher Professional Development, Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines


The Blank Park Zoo would once again like to invite educators to professional development opportunities that will be held at Blank Park Zoo and other locations around Iowa 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 Iowa Core and Next Generation Science Standards, 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:  

Habitats and Adaptations - Teachers will experience a module created by the Wildlife Conservation Society (Habitat Ecology Learning Program), as well as materials from NSTA and the Council for Environmental Education. These resources utilize art, math, geography and live science to explore ecology. The lessons are designed to motivate students, encourage critical thinking, and make learning fun. This course will specifically focus 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.

Conservation: People and Animals - Participants will explore positive and negative interactions between humans and animals in ecosystems, learn about conservation efforts in which Blank Park Zoo is a partner, and how to connect with researchers and conservationists committed to wildlife conservation around the world. They will have the opportunity to work with grade level groups to find ways to implement conservation projects in their classrooms.

Wild Genes – Participants explore genetic diversity in plants and animals, learn about the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Program, and meet some families of animals here at the zoo.  While genetics content is generally presented in middle and high school, we will be showing how concepts at the elementary level articulate to upper grades. 

Climate Change - Educators will participate in learning activities designed by a collaborative of seven national organizations including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, the National Parks service, and U.S. Forest Service.

The activities are organized in a DVD based Toolkit that uses a case study approach to focus on climate change and its impact on wildlife and public lands. All activities have been reviewed by scientists and by educators from the 2008 Einstein Fellowship Program and are aligned with the Framework for K-12 Science Education. 

Wonders of Water - Participants will explore the physical properties of water, various water habitats, and water related conservation concerns.  Activities will include water testing, comparisons of various water habitats and the organisms that depend on them, examination of current water issues and concerns, and development of lessons to be utilized in the classroom.

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 2015/2016
November 6/7, 2015 - Habitats and Adaptations
November 20/21, 2015 - Conservation: People and Animals
January 15/16, 2016 - Wild Genes
February 19/20, 2016 - Climate Change

April 15/16, 2016 - Wonders of Water 

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

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

Blank Park Zoo
7401 SW 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50315