Ford Education Center Learning Labs

Give your class a healthy dose of Vitamin Z!

All programs require a minimum of 15 students. Programs are available at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, unless otherwise noted. For availability and/or booking, please call (248) 541-5717 ext. 3800.


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Animal Size

  • Audience: Pre-kindergarten to first grade
  • Length: 45 minutes
  • Cost: $50 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations:  K.MD.A.1, K.MD.A.2

How do you measure up?  Are you as tall as a tiger?  Do you have hands as big as a polar bear’s paws?  Students will use non-standard measurement to explore the amazing diversity of animal size.

Animal Size

  • Audience: Pre-kindergarten to first grade
  • Length: 45 minutes
  • Cost: $50 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations:  K.MD.A.1, K.MD.A.2

How do you measure up?  Are you as tall as a tiger?  Do you have hands as big as a polar bear’s paws?  Students will use non-standard measurement to explore the amazing diversity of animal size.


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Animal Needs

  • Audience: Pre-kindergarten to first grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: K-LS1-1, LS 1.C

What do animals need to survive? How does the animal care staff meet the needs of the animals that live at the Detroit Zoo? This station-based program will explore the great care animals receive.

Animal Needs

  • Audience: Pre-kindergarten to first grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: K-LS1-1, LS 1.C

What do animals need to survive? How does the animal care staff meet the needs of the animals that live at the Detroit Zoo? This station-based program will explore the great care animals receive.


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Life Cycles

  • Audience: Kindergarten to second grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 1-LS1-2, LS1.B

What does the life cycle of a butterfly look like up close? Station-based activities allow participants to explore and re-enact the life cycle of a butterfly.

Life Cycles

  • Audience: Kindergarten to second grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 1-LS1-2, LS1.B

What does the life cycle of a butterfly look like up close? Station-based activities allow participants to explore and re-enact the life cycle of a butterfly.


A king penguin

Penguin Project

  • Audience: Second to fourth grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 1-LS1-2, LS1.B

Find out what it’s like to be a penguin keeper! Participants will take on the role of penguin keepers and simulate several tasks keepers do to care for the penguins.

Penguin Project

  • Audience: Second to fourth grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 1-LS1-2, LS1.B

Find out what it’s like to be a penguin keeper! Participants will take on the role of penguin keepers and simulate several tasks keepers do to care for the penguins.


A marsh area

Web of Life

  • Audience: Fourth to sixth grade
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $75, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 5-LS2-1, LS 2-A, LS 2-B

See what lies beneath the surface of the water through this hands-on science experience. Participants will investigate the aquatic food chain of the Cotton Family Wetlands by identifying benthic organisms. This program is only offered September to October and March to June.

Web of Life

  • Audience: Fourth to sixth grade
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $75, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 5-LS2-1, LS 2-A, LS 2-B

See what lies beneath the surface of the water through this hands-on science experience. Participants will investigate the aquatic food chain of the Cotton Family Wetlands by identifying benthic organisms. This program is only offered September to October and March to June.


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Conservation Project: Panamanian Golden Frogs

  • Audience: Fourth to sixth grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $75 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 5-PS3-1, 5-LS1-1, 5-ESS3-1, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS4-4

Panamanian golden frogs have not been found in the wild in the last decade. Participants will take on the role of conservation scientists to see if they can discover what caused the population to vanish.

Conservation Project: Panamanian Golden Frogs

  • Audience: Fourth to sixth grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $75 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 5-PS3-1, 5-LS1-1, 5-ESS3-1, MS-LS2-1, MS-LS4-4

Panamanian golden frogs have not been found in the wild in the last decade. Participants will take on the role of conservation scientists to see if they can discover what caused the population to vanish.


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Conservation Project: Wolves

  • Audience: Fourth to sixth grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $75 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 5-PS3-1, 5-LS1-1, 5-ESS3-1, MS-LS2-1,MS-LS4-4

The wolf population on Isle Royale, an island located in Lake Superior, is collapsing. Participants will investigate potential causes of this population crisis and what the future for wolves on the island may include.

Conservation Project: Wolves

  • Audience: Fourth to sixth grade
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $75 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: 5-PS3-1, 5-LS1-1, 5-ESS3-1, MS-LS2-1,MS-LS4-4

The wolf population on Isle Royale, an island located in Lake Superior, is collapsing. Participants will investigate potential causes of this population crisis and what the future for wolves on the island may include.


Two children using iPad dissection app

Virtual Dissection: A Humane Alternative

  • Audience: Sixth to eighth grade
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $75 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-7

Participants will visit the National Amphibian Conservation Center, home to more than a thousand fascinating amphibians. An interactive, virtual-reality dissection of a frog will allow participants to build their understanding of frog anatomy while ensuring wild populations of these critically important species are not compromised.

Virtual Dissection: A Humane Alternative

  • Audience: Sixth to eighth grade
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $75 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-7

Participants will visit the National Amphibian Conservation Center, home to more than a thousand fascinating amphibians. An interactive, virtual-reality dissection of a frog will allow participants to build their understanding of frog anatomy while ensuring wild populations of these critically important species are not compromised.


Veterinarians at work

Zoo Careers: Animal Medicine

  • Audience: Ninth to twelfth grade
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $75, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: Education Development – Career Exploration

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a Zoo veterinarian? Step into the role of a veterinarian and work as a team on a case study of an animal who needs your help.

Zoo Careers: Animal Medicine

  • Audience: Ninth to twelfth grade
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $75, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: Education Development – Career Exploration

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a Zoo veterinarian? Step into the role of a veterinarian and work as a team on a case study of an animal who needs your help.


A Blanding's turtle

Zoo Careers: Blanding’s Turtle Case Study

  • Audience: Ninth to twelfth grade
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $75, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: Education Development – Career Exploration

Conservation scientists at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge have identified a problem — field staff have been unable to find any juvenile Blanding’s turtles. Participants will work as a team to provide simulated care for model turtles as they support the Detroit Zoological Society’s head-start program to help this endangered species.

Zoo Careers: Blanding’s Turtle Case Study

  • Audience: Ninth to twelfth grade
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Cost: $75, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: Education Development – Career Exploration

Conservation scientists at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge have identified a problem — field staff have been unable to find any juvenile Blanding’s turtles. Participants will work as a team to provide simulated care for model turtles as they support the Detroit Zoological Society’s head-start program to help this endangered species.


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Wildlife Forensics

  • Audience: Ninth to twelfth grade (Recommended for anatomy and physiology courses)
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: Science and engineering – planning and carrying out investigations and engaging in argument from evidence

Participants will take on the role of a wildlife forensics specialist and have an opportunity to excavate a disarticulated (replica) skeleton. They will use problem-solving skills to uncover what caused the animal’s death.

Wildlife Forensics

  • Audience: Ninth to twelfth grade (Recommended for anatomy and physiology courses)
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: Science and engineering – planning and carrying out investigations and engaging in argument from evidence

Participants will take on the role of a wildlife forensics specialist and have an opportunity to excavate a disarticulated (replica) skeleton. They will use problem-solving skills to uncover what caused the animal’s death.


Detroit Zoo - Giraffes

Animal Behavior

  • Audience: Ninth to twelfth grade (Recommended for biology courses)
  • Length: 60 minute
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: Science and engineering – asking questions, defining problems and analyzing and interpreting data

Prior to visiting the Zoo, a video introduction to how scientists study animal behavior will prepare participants to practice ethology and use an ethogram, a tool researchers use to document animal behavior. During the Zoo visit, participants will use ethograms to collect data while observing animals in their habitats. Detroit Zoological Society staff will conduct a virtual meet-up with participants after the visit to assist in analyzing and comparing data, and reflect on the challenges and benefits ethology provides animal care experts.

Animal Behavior

  • Audience: Ninth to twelfth grade (Recommended for biology courses)
  • Length: 60 minute
  • Cost: $65 per class, plus admission (maximum 35 students and five chaperones)
  • Curriculum Correlations: Science and engineering – asking questions, defining problems and analyzing and interpreting data

Prior to visiting the Zoo, a video introduction to how scientists study animal behavior will prepare participants to practice ethology and use an ethogram, a tool researchers use to document animal behavior. During the Zoo visit, participants will use ethograms to collect data while observing animals in their habitats. Detroit Zoological Society staff will conduct a virtual meet-up with participants after the visit to assist in analyzing and comparing data, and reflect on the challenges and benefits ethology provides animal care experts.