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. These include making observations, collecting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions and communicating results. Teachers may participate in the program with up to five class sections of middle-school students.


Program Goals

  • Support teachers in conducting inquiry-based science activities aligned with classroom curriculum
  • Support teachers in making connections between curriculum and research at Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Support students in the development of independent research skills
  • Provide students with inquiry-based, data collection experiences aligned with the work of zoo researchers

Program Components

Young Researchers Collaborative consists of five components, resulting in teachers leading their students through the process of an independent research project focused on animal behavior.

Component 1: Educator Professional Development
Conducted at Lincoln Park Zoo, teachers participate in two workshops to prepare them for helping students conduct research.

Component 2: School Site Visits
A zoo educator visits each class three times to work with students.

Component 3: Zoo Field Trips
All students visit the zoo twice in order to conduct behavior research on an animal of their choice or to conduct an ecological survey of the area near the zoo’s Nature Boardwalk.

Component 4: Ongoing Student Research
Primarily conducted at school, all students complete a research project focusing on the behavior or ecology of local wildlife.

Component 5: Science Celebration
The culminating event, Science Celebration is held at Lincoln Park Zoo and is a showcase for projects completed by students.
 

iPad Apps

We’ve learned that technology is really the way to engage students, who can use our iPads while collecting data at the zoo. The zoo offers two specially created 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 field researchers.

Creating Young Researchers iPad App

Zoo educators created the Creating Young Researchers iPad application to facilitate ecological data collection and analysis. Available for free, the app 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 312-742-7806 or yrc@lpzoo.org.


Tier 2 Program

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

Tier 2 helps teachers move towards independent facilitation of this curriculum via a less-structured, reduced program model. Contact and support from the zoo is minimized.

This flexible model lets teachers integrate YRC content at their own pace as an enhancement to planned curriculum. It provides access to tools and resources including field cameras, iPads and check-out kits containing lesson plans and materials. Tier 2 teachers also enjoy fellowship and collaboration with other teachers participating in both tiers of the YRC program.

Component 1: Educator Professional Development

Teachers participate in two workshops conducted at Lincoln Park Zoo to prepare them for helping students conduct research.



Component 2: Field Camera Training

A zoo educator instructs the participating teacher on use, set-up and best practices for utilizing a field camera to survey wildlife.



Component 3: Zoo Field Trip

All students visit the zoo once in order to conduct behavior research on an animal of their choice or to conduct an ecological survey of the area near Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo.



Component 4: Ongoing Student Research

All students complete a research project, primarily conducted at school, focusing on the behavior or ecology of local wildlife.



Component 5: School-Based Science Celebration

Zoo educators travel to participating schools for a showcase of student research.

Tier 2 teachers gain access to more tools and resources from the zoo but fewer facilitated exercises for educators and their students. We encourage science teachers to participate with as many as four science classes/periods.

The application period for the 2014–2015 school year has passed. Applications for the 2015-2016 school year will become available in spring 2015.

Please contact Sarah Miller at smiller@lpzoo.org or 312-742-2051 with questions and 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 Bank of America 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.