Bright Young Minds in a Wild Classroom

I'm just back from the 7th Annual Science Celebration at Café Brauer on zoo grounds, where some 200 participants in the Young Researchers Collaborative showcased their science projects. Topics ranged from comparing the behavior of lions with housecats to exploring the biodiversity of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk.   

This is always an exciting, celebratory event for the participating kids and the attendees, me included. It’s inspiring to see how smart Chicago’s students are. This event is also a great showcase for Lincoln Park Zoo’s efforts to be a resource for teachers looking to enhance their science initiatives in and out of their classrooms.

To complement our efforts to make the zoo a living laboratory for eager minds of all ages, our educators offer a bevy of materials and programs. Curriculum guides help teachers create zoo-based classroom projects. Zoo Tracks brochures guide on-grounds field trips. (Both can be found here

Our new EthoSearch site ( makes a wide range of scientifically “vetted” ethograms accessible to the scientific and educational communitiesas well as lesson plans and student-friendly ethogram data sheets.

Just as we are committed to wildlife here in Chicago and around the world, Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to being a leader in science education, whether to the casual visitor who learns something new during each stroll through the grounds, or to a scientist using EthoSearch at some distant corner of the globe, or to local students who—quite literally—employ the zoo as a wild classroom.

Our mission to educate is ongoing. As always, I’ll keep you posted.


Kevin Bell