This free, school year-long program engages middle and high school youth in research activities that support the work of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute. Students will work with their teachers to collect data on local wildlife at their school site using non-invasive techniques and tools, such as camera surveys, bird surveys, and bat monitors. Both teachers and students will receive all the training they need in order to participate successfully.
What Is Expected
Throughout the course of the program, students will:
- conduct authentic science projects, aligned with zoo research, from data collection experiences to data analysis and dissemination
- connect with nature and urban wildlife in their communities and at Lincoln Park Zoo
- gain awareness about the diversity of Chicago wildlife
- be encouraged to explore nature in their communities
- develop solutions for conservation challenges faced in an urbanizing world
Throughout the course of the program, teachers will:
- gain experience in using inquiry in their science classroom
- incorporate information on conservation and human impacts on the environment into their curriculum, and receive direct support from zoo educators in the process
- increase their understanding and confidence in applying the scientific process
What Is Provided?
Partners in Fieldwork is a rigorous program. Therefore, Lincoln Park Zoo provides and pays for all resources needed for participation. This includes, but is not limited to:
- free buses for all visits to the zoo, field site, and culminating events
- teacher stipends for workshop attendance
- substitute reimbursement, as necessary
- access to an online portal containing all resources and curriculum
- all printed materials
- a classroom kit full of materials to keep after the program concludes
- access to a zoo facilitator for support throughout the year
The Partners in Fieldwork program focuses on training youth and teachers to collect data and share their research with the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute, as well as their school community. The program consists of five key 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. Parking, CPDUs, and meals are provided.
Component 2: Classroom Visits
Four times throughout the year, a zoo educator visits participating schools to help students develop authentic research skills that allow students to collect data that will be used to develop a final project.
Component 3: Field Trips
Participating high school students will take one trip to conduct research at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk and one trip to a local field site. Middle school students will visit Nature Boardwalk once; for their other field trip, they may choose between the local field site or returning to the zoo.
Component 4: Ongoing Student Learning, Research, and Conservation
Students will conduct ongoing research on school grounds and in the surrounding neighborhood, employing techniques used to study local wildlife. Class time will also be used to focus on analysis and a final conservation project.
Component 5: Conservation Expo
All participating students will complete a final project to present to their peers and classmates through the program. Practice events are a piece of this component for middle school students. The final culminating events (Conservation Expos) will be held at Lincoln Park Zoo and will provide opportunities for select students to demonstrate to their families and zoo staff what they learned throughout the year.
How to Apply
To apply for Partners in Fieldwork, all teachers must fill out the application. To qualify, middle school teachers must have three or more science classes and high school teachers must have two or more. Principal signature is required.
All applications must be mailed to the address found on the application, or scanned and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are due no later than May 31.
Former Partners in Fieldwork participants still receive benefits from the zoo:
- You continue to have access to lesson plans, modules with materials, the data being collected by all the participating schools, and more.
- You can request visits from staff (contingent on availability) to the classroom or via Skype.
- You can apply for bus scholarships to visit the zoo.
- You will be invited to participate in workshops with other current and past teachers.
- You may be asked to participate in any other opportunities that may arise.