Archive: Detroit Zoological Society Partners with Detroit Public Schools

Four thousand first-graders experience immersive science program at Detroit Zoo

September 17, 2015

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

More than 4,000 first-grade students in Detroit Public Schools (DPS) are kicking off their school year with an immersive science curriculum developed in conjunction with the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS).  The program, which began September 16 and runs through September 30, combines in-class learning with hands-on experiences at the Detroit Zoo, bringing science to life and creating lasting impact for the students.

“The program is designed to complement the classroom as an extension of the students’ educational journey at school,” said Diane Miller, DZS chief program officer. “We want to help these children develop science processing skills, begin to expand their growing vocabularies, support future science experiences and demonstrate firsthand that science is accessible and essential to everyone.”

Educators at the DZS worked directly with DPS administrators and science coordinators to craft a program around the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE) that ensures correlation with what will be seen in the classroom.  With a focus on what animals need to survive, the students will spend their day at the Detroit Zoo with a guided tour, journaling, storytelling and a station-based experience.

The stations will incorporate several hands-on, facilitated activities, including building a bird’s nest and a stream for otters and beavers.  Once back in the classroom, the students will use kinetic sand, model trees, simulated water and other items that animals need to survive to craft a complete habitat.  Throughout their experience at the Zoo, students will learn and use skills such as observation, classifying, predicting, experimenting and measuring, all of which they will continue to use in the classroom.

The partnership with DPS marks the third district-wide education initiative at the DZS; the first program launched in 2012 with all third-graders at Utica Community Schools and the second wrapped in 2014 with all first-graders at Warren Consolidated Schools.

“These educational partnerships have been incredibly successful,” Miller said.  “Our hope is that the programs have a lasting impact on these young minds by creating interest in and building understanding of basic science concepts.  We want to instill in them a sense of wonder and wow when they look at the world and everything in it.”