BVR Academics: MS students design zoo enclosures

Class: Science 6
Grades: 6
Teachers: Ms. Ohl, Mr. Rohn

Students in Science 6 created zoo enclosure models after researching the needs and habitats of specific animals. The project started with a trip to the Franklin Park Zoo, where students spoke to an animal caretaker and got inspiration for their projects. While touring the zoo, students were tasked with approaching each enclosure with a different perspective in mind.

While at the zoo, [students] made observations about different elements that were present in the zoo enclosures, like animal enrichment and feeding stations. They also noted what design elements they might want to include in their own future designs. We asked them to take the perspective of either a zoo caretaker, a visitor, or the animal and consider what they ‘liked’ and ‘disliked’ from that perspective.

-Ms. Ohl

Students spent the following weeks on the Design Level constructing their enclosures. By starting the research process with real-world examples, students were better equipped to imagine what a realistic enclosure may look like. The project also emphasized designing for equitable access for those with mobility issues, encouraging students to be mindful about designing the exterior of their enclosures. Materials including rocks, clay, cardboard, fabric, and 3D printed miniatures were all used to bring their ideas to life.

Over the course of this project, students developed skills in research, scientific communication, as well as engineering and design. One of my favorite things about having students construct physical models is seeing their creativity and innovation flourish throughout the process. As students iterate on their designs, I see their inspiration sparked by the materials and tools available to them at Beaver.

-Mr. Rohn

Science 6 will take what they have learned from constructing their zoo enclosures and apply it to a follow up unit in collaboration with the Hiatt Center.

Our work with Hiatt is centered around a follow up unit after zoo enclosures. We are taking 6th graders to Dane Park across the street to take a nature walk with 3 Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge experts.

-Mr. Rohn

Check out some of the enclosures in the video below!

More about this course: What is home? How do I understand my place and impact in a larger system? In Science 6, we get outside and explore our sense of place through several lenses, including Earth science, ecosystems, and engineering. We challenge ourselves to examine systems big and small through field study by strengthening our observation, data collection, and data analysis skills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *