Zoo Careers: Blanding’s Turtle Case Study

Blandings Turtle

9th to 12th grade

Engage and Assess

Participants will use mobile technology to share a career path they are interested in pursuing. Then participants will work in small groups to quickly chart all the jobs they think a zoo needs to run effectively. This will provide the facilitator insights into the participants’ background knowledge and interests to frame the experience.


  • Observation
  • Recording, measuring and graphing data
  • Problem solving

Science Concepts / Standards

  • Science and Engineering Practices:
    • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
      • A practice of science is to ask and refine questions that lead to descriptions and explanations of how the natural and designed world works and which can be empirically tested.
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
    • Scientific investigations produce data that must be analyzed in order to derive meaning. Because data patterns and trends are not always obvious, scientists use a range of tools — including tabulation, graphical interpretation, visualization and statistical analysis — to identify the significant features and patterns in the data. Scientists identify sources of error in the investigations and calculate the degree of certainty in the results. Modern technology makes the collection of large data sets much easier, providing secondary sources for analysis.


  • 60-minute experience
  • Maximum of 35 students and five adults
  • Cost: $75, plus admission

Participants will work though the real-life conservation story of the Detroit Zoological Society’s Blanding’s turtle head-start program. Participants will provide simulated care for model turtles from before eggs are laid until juveniles are ready for release. Participants will take on multiple roles, including veterinarian, conservation scientist, and animal welfare scientist.

Celebrating and Saving Wildlife

For the safety and well-being of our participants and animals, plush and other animal models (hexbugs) are used to create engaging activities in lieu of live animals. Activities increase understanding and appreciation toward wildlife and wild places while ensuring Detroit Zoo animals are thriving in their habitats and social groups.

Take Action

You can monitor and help protect reptiles and amphibians in your neighborhood. Record Michigan native amphibians and reptiles with Michigan Herp Atlas, a citizen science program. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses this information to better understand statewide population distribution and changes.

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