Young Researchers Collaborative

Supporting Inquiry-Based Science in the Classroom

Young Researchers Collaborative is a nine-month program that takes place during the school year to support educators in making inquiry-based science a key component of classroom curriculum. The program focuses on animal behavior and ecology studies. It is conducted both at schools and on zoo grounds in an effort to teach students research skills as they conduct authentic research projects aligned with the work of zoo researchers. Teachers may participate in the program with three to five classes of middle-school students.


Program Goals

  • Students will engage in real-life data collection experiences aligned with animal behavior and biodiversity research.
  • Students will conduct authentic research projects.
  • Students will develop independent research skills using the tools modeled off those used by researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo.
  • Teachers and students will identify urban wildlife in their own neighborhoods.
  • Teachers will learn how to conduct inquiry-based science lessons that align with zoo research.

How to Apply

Lincoln Park Zoo is accepting rolling applications for the 2015-2016 school year.

  Download the Young Researchers Collaborative Application

For more information on this program, contact 312-742-2051 or yrc@lpzoo.org.


Program Components

Young Researchers Collaborative consists of five main program components:

Component 1: Professional Development Workshops
These interactive workshops give teachers additional information on the program and its components, supplementary information on research, necessary materials to participate in program components, time to collaborate with fellow participants, and a chance to learn more about the animals and research at the zoo.

Component 2: School Site Visits
A zoo educator will visit participating schools on three separate occasions, free of charge, to work directly with the teacher and students. The visits will focus primarily on building inquiry-based research skills (i.e., observation, data collection/analysis and dissemination). Students will have the chance to connect what they have learned in class with their own animal observations taken in the schoolyard and surrounding neighborhood.

Component 3: Zoo Field Trips
All participating students visit the zoo on two separate occasions in order to conduct research. Each visit will be partially facilitated by a zoo educator while the other portion will give students a chance to collect data using the zoo’s iPads and data sheets for their final research project. The educator workshops and classroom visits will prepare participating teachers for each visit.

Component 4: Ongoing Student Research
Students will conduct ongoing research and analysis at school. One-two hours per month of class time to focus on research, analysis and presentation preparation will be expected from each student. Individual data collection outside of school hours is encouraged but not required.

Component 5: Science Celebration
Students showcase their final projects at the culminating event titled Science Celebration. Each participating teacher will select approximately 15-20 students to represent their school at the event, though all participating students will complete a final research project to present to their peers and classmates. The event will conclude with a lunch reception.


iPad Apps

The zoo will provide iPads with specially designed iPad applications for student use for data collection at the zoo. The zoo offers two iPad applications that can be used by students to collect data on animals during zoo field trips, classroom visits and ongoing research at school. This technology allows students to share their work with peers and compare collected data in ways similar to those of professional researchers.

Creating Young Researchers iPad App

Zoo educators created the Creating Young Researchers iPad application to facilitate ecological data collection and analysis. The app is free for iPad and provides animal descriptions and audio samples of vocalizations to help students identify species throughout the Chicago area. When data collection is finished, the app produces a summary that can be sent to a provided email for use in the classroom or at home. The app’s design was based on tools and technology used by researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Creating Young Researchers iPad App
The zoo’s Creating Young Researchers iPad app is available as a free download through Apple’s iTunes Store. Learn more and download here.

Observe to Learn iPad App

Zoo educators from the Hurvis Center for Learning Innovation and Collaboration created the Observe to Learn iPad application to facilitate animal behavior studies. This free app is specially designed to let learners of any age participate in independent research at a nearby park or their own backyard. The app provides descriptions and videos of common behaviors to help with data collection. When data collection is finished, the app produces a summary that can be sent to a provided email for use in the classroom or at home. The app’s design was based on tools and technology used by researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Observe to Learn iPad App
The zoo’s Observe to Learn app is available as a free download through Apple’s iTunes Store. Learn more and download here.

For more information on the Young Researchers Collaborative, contact us at 312-742-2051 or yrc@lpzoo.org.


Tier 2 Program

Teachers who have already completed the Young Researchers Collaborative program can take their participation to the next level by applying for our Tier 2 program!

YRC is designed to provide programmatic content to teachers and their students, and also to provide teachers with the tools and expertise necessary to replicate YRC programming throughout the rest of their teaching careers. In order to ease teachers towards this independent facilitation, Tier 2 offers:

  • A flexible model that enables teachers to integrate YRC curriculum into their classroom in their own way.
  • Access to new tools and resources for research, including field cameras, iPads, and backpack kits containing additional lesson plans and materials.
  • Extra professional development opportunities for teachers to grow their content knowledge of science and research.
  • Fellowship and collaboration with peers in the program, including opportunities to work together on adapting curriculum and problem solving.

Tier 2 consists of six main program components:

Component 1: Professional Development Workshops
These interactive workshops give teachers additional information on the program and its components, supplementary information on research, necessary materials to participate in program components, time to collaborate with fellow participants, and a chance to learn more about the animals and research at the zoo.

Component 2: Field Camera Training
To aide in student research, teachers will receive a field camera and accessories to capture urban wildlife in their schoolyards. A zoo educator will conduct one after school visit to provide participating teachers with coaching on camera usage and set-up.

Component 3: Zoo Field Trip

All participating students visit the zoo once in order to conduct research on a zoo animal of their choice. The visit will be partially facilitated by a zoo educator while the other portion will give students a chance to collect data using the zoo’s iPads and data sheets for their final research project.

Component 4: Ongoing Student Research

Students will be expected to conduct ongoing research and analysis at school. One to two hours per month of class time to focus on research, analysis and dissemination will be expected from each student. Individual data collection outside of school hours is encouraged but not required.

Component 5: Working Groups

Teachers will collaborate during these two out-of-school time working groups to discuss their implementation of the Tier 2 model, work through challenges they may face, and brainstorm program extensions or adaptations for use in their classrooms. Additional professional development is also provided during these sessions and may include guest speakers and additional science training.

Component 6: School-Based Science Celebration
Participants celebrate students’ success through a school-based Science Celebration. Each participating teacher is expected to conduct an event, project display gallery, or student presentations at their school where participants will have the opportunity to share their discoveries with each other, members of the school faculty, and fellow students as well as visiting zoo educators.

Please contact yrc@lpzoo.org or 312-742-2051 to learn more about the Tier 2 program and application process.

 

Young Researchers Collaborative is made possible through the generous support of Polk Bros. Foundation and American Honda Foundation.


Learn More

Teachable Moments
Read about how zoo educators push students past their comfort zones by taking on the role of scientists at the zoo.