Nurture and grow your pupils’ enthusiasm for Science with the support of some furry, scaly and hairy companions at these UK animal-themed attractions.
Paignton Zoo, Devon
Paignton Zoo boasts 80 acres of zoological park and botanical gardens filled with plants and animals from across the world. There’s also a large, purpose-built education centre, on-site nature reserves and a large range of teaching resources.
Primary and Secondary teachers can choose from a menu of bespoke structured learning days, or lead their own teaching with support from trails and activity packs.
Specific workshops for Science classes include Evolution, during which the class will explore the theory of evolution and natural selection in a range of species from different environments.
There is also a Skeletons and Movement learning session that looks at different forms of locomotion in animals and the differences between quadrupedal and bipedal movement.
Paignton Zoo offers weeklong residential trips as well as day visits, and a typical week will include exploring the zoo, enjoying multiple workshop sessions, and taking field trips to other local attractions and the surrounding countryside.
Bristol Zoo, Somerset
(Photo credit: Peter Budd)
Bristol Zoo education sessions take place in themed classrooms in a new Conservation Education Centre. Most sessions are 55 minutes long and can include up to three live animals including tame reptiles, small mammals and invertebrates.
All sessions are linked to the National Curriculum or specific syllabi. 40 different sessions are available for teachers to choose from, with topics including habitats, endangered species and food chains.
Example Key Stage 1 and 2 workshops include Smarty Plants, which allows students to investigate plants in the zoo garden, and Variety of Life, which focuses on biodiversity and groups of living things.
Crocodiles of the World, Oxfordshire
Suitable for all Key Stages is Crocodiles of the World, a reptile zoo dedicated to the conservation of caiman, crocodiles and alligators.
During a visit, the class will have a guided tour and watch hands-on demonstrations featuring live alligators and other reptiles.
A tailor-made classroom session to reinforce learning back at school will be part of the day, as will the chance to meet live animals during a learning session.
Pupils are given the chance to learn about topics such as conservation, ecosystems, and biodiversity. Habitat, adaptations, and predators are also areas that can be covered, depending on National Curriculum specifications and Key Stage.
Monkey World, Dorset
For a personal encounter with a variety of monkeys, teachers can take their class to Monkey World in Dorset. The primate-specific site is set amongst 65 acres of woodland near Wareham, and home to over 250 rescued primates of more than 20 different species.
Monkey World provides students with the chance to learn about topics including Animal Rescue and Conservation, Being Born and Growing Up, Bodies and Movement, and Food and Feeding.
Each of the themes can be supported by different worksheets. These worksheets have questions encouraging students to learn about different primates and how humans relate to them.
For example, during a Being Born and Growing Up learning session, students will be encouraged to fill out their worksheets and note down the behaviours of primates at different stages of childhood and adulthood.
ZSL London Zoo
A wide range of Science workshops for Key Stages 1 to 4, are available at ZSL London Zoo, covering topics including how animal teeth compare against human teeth, and the effects of climate change across the world.
Workshop examples include Interactive Food Webs, which aims to explore how animals within an ecosystem are dependent on each other, and Adaptations, during which students will consider what adaptations are and how they arise through the process of natural selection.
ZSL has created an extensive collection of learning resources that can be used both during a visit and on return to school. Teachers can combine a workshop with an exploration of the zoo – don’t miss the new Land of the Lions exhibit, due to open at the end of March.
Marwell Zoo, Hampshire
Marwell Wildlife is a conservation charity based near Winchester. As well as co-ordinating a range of species and habitat conservation programmes locally and internationally, Marwell Wildlife runs Marwell Zoo where school children can see over 160 different species of animals.
As well as exploring the zoo and meeting its animal inhabitants, pupils can learn during interactive education sessions which are all curriculum-linked and cover a variety of topics such as adaptation, rainforests and conservation.
Key Stage 3 workshop, Working Scientifically, challenges pupils to a role-play scenario themed around the criminal smuggling of animal artefacts. The class must observe and measure the artefacts on hand to work out who the culprit is.
Meanwhile, a Key Stage 2 workshop about rainforests looks at where different animals might live and thrive within the different levels of the forest environment. Pupils must identify the role of consumer power and what impact it has on the rainforest as well.