Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo

Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: $14 Adult | $8 Child

View All Rates ›

Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: $14 Adult | $8 Child

View All Rates ›

Just for Teachers

Teacher Workshops
Programs in your classroom
Programs at the Zoo
Download Tracks to the Zoo

Teacher Workshops

The Blank Park Zoo would like to invite teachers to teacher workshops to be held at various locations and dates throughout the year. Participating teachers will be eligible for a FREE zoo program.

Cost: $25 to help cover costs associated with materials and meals. All sales are final, no refunds will be honored.

License renewal will be made available. All workshop activities are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Iowa Core for science, with connections to literacy, math, and social studies.


Summer 2018 
Summer workshops are held over two full days at various locations around Iowa

June 12/13, 2018 - Climate Change. Swan Lake State Park, Carroll, Iowa
June 26/27, 2018 - Climate Change. FW Kent Park, Oxford, Iowa
July 10/11, 2018 - Pollinators: Birds Do It; Bees Do It...and so do Lemurs and Lizards! Swan Lake State Park, Carroll, Iowa
July 24/25, 2018 - Pollinators: Birds Do It; Bees Do It...and so do Lemurs and Lizards! FW Kent Park, Oxford, Iowa

Academic Year 2018/2019 
All academic year workshops are held at Blank Park Zoo Friday evenings and all day Saturdays.

September 28/29, 2018 - Ecosystems
November 2/3, 2018 - Zoo Structure and Design
November 30/December 1, 2018 - Biomimicry and Inspiration
January 25/26, 2019 - Habitats and Adaptations
February 22/23, 2019 - Nature-centered Science for PreK-2 (new workshop[!)
April 5/6, 2019 - Lamarck, and Wallace, and Darwin..Oh, My!  Evolution for Educators (new workshop!)

Watch the  website! Descriptions of the two newest workshops will be posted soon.

Click Here to fill out a workshop registration form

For Questions, call the Zoo Education Office: 515-974-2557 or 515-974-2546

Workshop Descriptions

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).

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. All lessons are connected to the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Iowa Core Curriculum for science, math and literacy.

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 Framework for K-12 Science Education. All experiences are aligned to the Framework and the Iowa Core.

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. Strong connections to the Iowa Core are emphasized.

Lamarck, and Wallace, and Darwin – Oh, my! – Evolution is the foundation for modern biological understanding and has a prominent place in Iowa’s Core for science and the Next Generation Science Standards.  In this course, educators will examine major evolutionary concepts, misconceptions about evolution, and how to address obstacles to teaching evolution

Nature-centered Science for PreK-2 –This course will engage participants in science investigations focused on nature and conservation and introduce them to the concept of Nature Play, where they will take away resources/ideas for nature activities, discover the developmental value of playing outside and how such opportunities help children build skills needed for STEM learning, and learn ways to incorporate nature play opportunities indoors.  Art, language arts, math, and social studies will be integrated throughout.

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 and will be doing investigations for all levels.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Programs In Your Classroom 

Call the Education Department at (515) 974-2557 or (515) 974-2546 to reserve a date.

Show and Tells 

Turn your class into a real wild place with live animals from the zoo! We will bring four education animals of your choice, and if you like, we can focus on the topics or themes that you are teaching in class and share age appropriate information with your students. In this very popular program, students will have an opportunity to touch and ask questions about the animals. Presentations are suitable for groups up to 35 students, and are usually between 30 to 45 minutes long.

Cost is $45.00 for a 45 minute presentation (we can do multiple back-to-back programs.) Mileage charge applies for schools outside the greater Des Moines area.

Alive in the Classroom!

Ever notice how your class comes alive when you talk about animals and the wild world of nature? Have you ever wished you had snakes and alligators and bats to enhance student learning? Well, now your wish can come true! Supplement your class materials with a visit from the Blank Park Zoo and take your curriculum a step further by challenging your students with hands-on-activities and visits from live animals.

Each Alive in the Classroom! program is specially developed to meet curriculum standards and includes interactive learning tools and dynamic activites that are age appropriate, conducted by trained Blank Park Zoo Educators. Fees are $45 for each 30 to 45 minute programs, A minimum of three presentations is preferred, but not required, for each school. (Presentations do not have to be the same) There is a small mileage charge for schools outside the greater Des Moines area. 

Alive in the Class program Choices:

Kinds of Creatures - PreK - K, 30 min.
Children compare skin to scales, fingers to fur in this special introduction to the animal kingdom.
Creepy Crawlies - K - 2, 45 min.
Explore the unique characteristics of insects using a "bug" costume, and live critters.

Marvelous Mammals - K - 2, 45 min.
Furry friends help teach your students the unique characteristics of mammals.
Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones - K - 2, 30 min.
Your students will have an "egg-citing" time learning about the egg-straordinary animals that come from eggs.

Animal Detectives - 3rd - 5th, 45 min.
Animals leave clues like fur, tracks and droppings. In this engaging, hands-on detective program, we will use reasoning skills and make sense of  "animal clues."

World Habitats  - 3rd - 5th, 1 hour
Take your students on a trip around the world with the help of our Habitat Boxes. Students will learn about animals, plants, and conservation issues from each habitat in this challenging, inquiry-based program.

Water Wonders3rd - 5th, 1 hour
Water covers 75% of the Earth's surface. We'll investigate the variety of water forms from Iowa wetlands to the oceans of our world. Examining water samples and discussing conservation issues will bring real learning to life.

Animal Artifacts 6th - 8th, 1 hour
Investigate the Blank Park Zoo's treasured collection of animal artifacts. The collection includes skulls, hides, teeth, fur, skeletons, and much more.

Veterinary Investigations - 6th - 8th, 1 hour
Solve the mysterious illnesses of zoo animals with your microscope, thinking and deduction skills.
Zoo Careers6th-8th, 1 hour
Compare the variety of animal care careers available at the zoo. From caretakers to curators, which one is right for you?

Programs At The Zoo

Zoo Field Trip

First hand experiences like getting nose to nose with a tiger, crawling through tunnels like a prairie dog, and listening to the lions roar will spark a world of wonderment.

Click here for current information and to make reservations.

Show and Tell Education Programs

Enhance your zoo field trip with a Show and Tell Education Program! One of our educators will bring four animal friends for a special 30 minute presentation just for your group. Guests will get an up close introduction to some exotic zoo friends and get to touch most or all of the animals in the presentation. Cost of Show and Tells are $45 for up to 50 people.

For field trip questions, please contact Jessica Schellhorn at 515-974-2588

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