Teacher Resources

Teacher Resources

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2019-2020 School Year
Education Opportunities

Using the Zoo as your classroom brings the whole world closer! From field trips to overnights, and experiences for students as well as educators, discover all the opportunities the Indianapolis Zoo offers to learn more about wild things and wild places.

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Chat with a Zoo Educator using Google Hangouts. Each video chat lasts 30 minutes with a 15-minute buffer to allow time for connection. Video chats consist of a discussion about the topic with the use of artifacts and about 10 minutes for questions and answers. A variety of program topics are available. If you do not see the topic you would like, custom programs may be accommodated if time allows at an additional cost.

Cost: $50 per session up to 35 participants and $75 for custom programs


Habitats – Habitats can come in all shapes and sizes. Learn about the four components that every habitat needs while briefly discussing how we can create habitats here at the zoo!
Adaptations – What is an adaptation? Learn about some special animal adaptations and how they use them to survive.
Zoo Careers – Find out what it takes to run a zoo. Discover all the different jobs and careers that are a part of creating a fun and educational place for families and a safe place for animals.
Indiana Wildlife – Investigate the wildlife of your own backyard and find out how you can help keep the animals and plants that live in Indiana safe and healthy.
Rain Forests – What makes a rain forest so special? Learn about this unique habitat and some of the incredible animals that call the rain forest home.
Penguins – Penguins are some of the coolest birds around! Learn about our cold, feathered friends and how they survive in such a harsh environment.

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Educator Professional Development

Take your science education to the next level and learn from Zoo professionals.

The Indianapolis Zoo provides a variety of science-based lesson plans that will deepen students’ understanding of wildlife and the importance of conservation. All programs are designed to engage students through meaningful, hands-on learning. The Zoo also offers a variety of professional development opportunities for educators and guidance counselors. The Zoo will provide a letter of documentation to participants for their professional development.

March 14 • 9am-3pm • Cost: $25
One of the leading threats to native wildlife is invasive species. From Burmese python and lionfish, to Zebra Mussels and Japanese Honeysuckle, native species are struggling for survival. Learn how you and your students can help save wildlife in your backyards and around the world.

June 20 • 9am-3pm • Cost: $25
Explore the Zoo’s conservation work from the Indianapolis Prize to raising native hellbenders. You will have an opportunity to see how the Zoo is working to make a difference for wildlife.

June 22-25 • 8:30am-4:30pm • Cost: $50
Program is designed for 4th-8th grade teachers, but all educators are welcome. We teamed up with Ball State University to help teachers develop and implement inquiry-based lesson plans in the areas of science and conservation. Explore an amazing array of wildlife while learning about a variety of conservation efforts around the world. African Elephants are feeling the pressures of the growing human population. The loss and fragmentation of habitat and the illegal poaching for the wildlife trade are taking their toll on elephant populations. See how we care for our elephants and learn how we are working to make a difference for elephants in the wild. Explore ways you and your students can help wildlife in your backyard and around the world.

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Visual Resource Guide

An online resource to help students and teachers explore the Zoo experience before their visit.

Rent for two weeks
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Education Kits

Our education kits are designed to engage and educate students with hands-on activities focused on animals here at the Zoo and around the world. Popular with both full-time teachers and parents who home school their children, these science kits include a teacher’s manual, books, artifacts, activities and more.

Education kits may be rented for two weeks for a $10 rental fee. Kits are to be picked up and returned at the Zoo’s Hix Institute between the hours of 9am-5pm Monday-Friday.

Education Kit Topics

  • Orangutan Kit: Students will explore the world of orangutans and discover how they can make a difference in the conservation of these special primates.
  • Nature Tales: Combines literature and science to connect young learners to the wonders of nature.
  • Elephant Kit: Guide students as they learn all about one of the world’s largest animals.
  • Polar Animals Kit: Explore the world of polar animals with your students as they learn about adaptations, habitats and conservation.
  • Sensory Kit: Students will use their senses to investigate the animal world.
  • Indiana Wildlife Kit: Think locally with Indiana conservation project based learning.
  • Conservation Kit: Bring conservation to your classroom by exploring the relationship between endangered species and the wildlife trade.
  • Amphibians & Reptiles Kit: Dive into the world of herpetofauna with your students and explore life cycles, special adaptations and conservation.
  • Life Cycles Kit: Learn about the wonder of life cycles
Field Investigations

These engaging and educational programs offer students the chance to delve deeper on their Zoo visits. With two investigation options available, kids can look at zoo exhibit design or immerse themselves in animal observations and ethograms. Both programs include activities before, during and after your Field Trip. Learn more about these topics:

Ethograms and Animal Behavior –  Zoo keepers learn a lot from observing the animals they work with each day. Ethograms are used to record animal behavior. Learn how zoo keepers observe animals and complete your own ethogram.

Zoo Exhibit Design –  At a zoo or aquarium, it is the job of a designer to help create the habitat for an animal. In order to build a habitat for an animal in a zoo setting a designer must understand the needs of the animal, keepers and guests. Learn more about the design process and create your own exhibit design.

Indianapolis Prize Conservation Hero Profiles

The Indianapolis Prize recognizes conservationists who have achieved major victories in advancing the sustainability of an animal species or group of species.

Russ Mittermeier, the most recent Prize Winner, is on a quest to save biodiversity hotspots. In a career spanning more than four decades, he’s discovered 21 species new to science and even has eight named after him!

To connect classroom learning with the heroic wonders of the Indianapolis Prize, the Conservation Hero Profiles were created to assist educators with teaching students about the men and women who are saving wildlife and improving our planet for future generations.

Written for a third- to fifth-grade audience, these profiles can be used as a reading assignment, an inspiration for writing or a launching point for further research.

Download Conservation Hero Profiles

Indianapolis Prize Videos

Whether it’s trekking through the heart of a rainforest or diving into the depths of an ocean to follow some of conservation’s leaders, these 3 to 7 minute videos allow students to see and hear about Indianapolis Prize Winners and Finalists and their inspiring work. These videos can be used to encourage deeper study in the areas of wildlife conservation and science.

Indianapolis Prize Winners Playlist
2018 Indianapolis Prize Winner and Finalists

Project-Based Learning

The Indianapolis Zoo wishes to inspire and engage Indiana schools to take part in local conservation projects through Project-Based Learning and Service Learning projects. The Zoo will work with your school to provide resources and expertise to conduct local conservations projects in your communities.

Do you have a PBL project that ties directly to the Zoo, its habitats or animals? Send a short description below to see if you qualify for a limited number of free field trips tickets specifically offered to schools taking part in PBL.

What is Project-Based Learning? PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. (As defined by Buck Institute for Education’s, BIE, website)

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