Approximately 1,300 second graders are joining Seneca Park Zoo staff at the zoo over the course of today and tomorrow to take part in an experiential learning program. The custom program was co-created by RCSD staff and the Seneca Park Zoo Society Education team for the benefit of RCSD students.
The integrated, inquiry-based program was created with the goal of addressing standards for science, math, and language arts. During the two-hour program, students completed a field guide-based study of four different animals. Groups were assigned one of two different “tracks” that guided their learning throughout the experience. In each parallel track students drew, measured, read, and wrote about their experiences.
“The District appreciates the tremendous collaboration between RCSD educators and the Seneca Park Zoo Society Education team in creating this first-of-its-kind curriculum for second-grade students,” said Dr. Linus Guillory, Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. “We wanted to create a fun, interactive learning experience for students while also incorporating the Next Generation Learning Standards for science, math, and English Language Arts utilizing the zoo as an extension of the classroom.”
At two stations, the students evaluated structures by observing and drawing a specific feature (i.e. beak, flipper), determining its shape, and connecting its structure with its function. At other stations, students estimated and measured lengths and read signs to gather information.
Following their Zoo experience, students will use their collected data to graph, draw, and write a story about how one of the animals they observed could survive in a different habitat, based on the information gathered.
Seneca Park Zoo Society President and CEO, Pamela Reed Sanchez, said
We are thrilled to introduce so many RCSD second graders to the Zoo, but more than that, we are proud to partner with teachers to meet their needs by teaching multiple subjects, using the Zoo as an outdoor classroom.
Funding for this program was given, in part, by a grant from the ESL Charitable Foundation.