Backyard Biodiversity Hotspot
(Grades 6-8) Ready to become a citizen scientist? Check out the following activities to take a journey through the life of a wildlife journalist, interpret animal tracking data, or join the pledge to help endangered animals here in your own backyard! San Diego is a biodiversity hotspot - a biologically rich area that has unfortunately lost 70% of its habitat. However, there's still hope for our amazing plants and animals—and you can help by becoming a citizen scientist!
(Grades K to 5) Experience the fascinating world of rhinos with our newest, NGSS-connected, teacher resources and activities guide. Students explore all five species—white, black, greater one-horned, Javan, and Sumatran—through inquiry-based, grade appropriate activities that cover natural history and conservation issues. In addition to in-classroom activity outlines, the guide includes printable activity sheets, distribution maps and rhino photos, an extension activity for field trips to the Zoo or Safari Park, a glossary, and correlated web resources.
Watershed Heroes Curriculum
(Grades 3 to 5) We all live in a watershed! Water travels from the top of the mountains to the rivers, creeks, and bays, surrounding our neighborhoods before it drains into our ocean. Our watershed provides drinking water for us and for wildlife, and supports the habitats that define our communities. For our health, and the health of all plants and animals, it is vital we keep our watersheds clean. This curriculum is structured to support teachers in the classroom. It includes classroom activities with connections to the Next Generation Science Standards, printable activity sheets, a glossary, and web resources.
- Watershed Heroes Curriculum PDF
- Watershed Heroes Teacher Resources PDF
- Watersheds Around the World Scavenger Hunt PDF
Radical Researchers Curriculum
(Grades 3 to 6) Being a field researcher is an important job--and it's fun too! Get to know some field researchers and what they do in the field as you learn how to pack gear for an expedition, walk quietly in the rain forests, and learn the skills required to observe animals in nature. You'll be surprised what animal secrets researchers uncover by using camera traps that take photos of the animals when they don't even know it!
(Grades Pre-K to 12) Want to get the most out of your class’ self-guided visit to the San Diego Zoo? Then this packet is for you. Self-guided activities offer grade-specific discussion prompts for chaperone-student groups while at the Zoo in addition to pre-visit and post-visit learning suggestions for the classroom. The materials also provide a teacher checklist for making reservations and preparing for your visit. A separate, easy-to-copy sheet lists chaperone guidelines that help keep your trip organized and your students focused.
Wild Cats Curriculum
(Grades K to 5) Leap into the wild world of big cats—lions, tigers, leopards, and more—with our NGSS-connected teacher activity and resource guide. Inquiry-based, in-classroom activities explore cat camouflage and other physical traits, senses, habitats, predator-prey food webs, and conservation. There are two activities per grade level: one at an introductory level and another at a content-application level. Use this guide independently, or bring your students to the Zoo or Safari Park to see these big cats in action.
(Grades 3 to 6) Join the San Diego Zoo and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to learn about San Diego habitats and the native plant and animal species that live right here in San Diego County. Students discover salt marsh plants, explore the edge of the San Diego Bay, create a conservation awareness poster and play a salt marsh food web game. This program aligns with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards. It’s a fun program with carefully designed curriculum that engages students in endangered species conservation, habitat restoration and outside enjoyment!
(Grades 3 to 6) Take a peek into the life of a reptile researcher as you journey with Reptile Pete and the zany Dr. Zoolittle through San Diego habitats and to the Galapagos Islands. Join in the fun as our team of Reptile Researchers tags iguanas to monitor the animals’ movements in the wild, and tracks down an endangered local turtle species with the coolest radio tracking equipment! Students can participate in activities that allow them to do the same tasks our reptile researchers do to save reptiles around the world and here at home.
(Grade 2) Written exclusively for the Zoo’s on-site, 2-hour tour for second grade students and teachers, the Adaptation Connections curriculum focuses on plant and animal adaptations and how they are connected to different habitats around the world. The in-classroom activities can be used in any sequence, for preparation before your visit to the Zoo or for review and extensions after. Topics explore such concepts as camouflage, seed dispersal, and predator-prey relationships.
Australian Outback Curriculum
The Conrad Prebys Australian Outback allows you and your students to explore the unique animals and diverse habitats found on the continent of Australia. Here you’ll watch kookaburras, wallabies, and Tasmanian devils, along with seeing the largest breeding colony of koalas outside Australia. The activities in this book take you and your students on an excursion through Australia. There are two activities per grade level: one at an introductory level and another at a content-application level. Use this guide independently, or bring your students to the Zoo to say “G’day” to animals found in the “Land Down Under.”
Panda Trek Curriculum
In the wild, we find giant pandas in the mountains of China. They live in damp, misty forests of bamboo and old-growth conifers. They share habitat with other animals, such as shaggy takins, elusive Mang Mountain pit vipers, and shy red pandas. At Panda Trek you can meet them all, plus you’ll learn about panda research and conservation. This guide follows the adventures of panda researcher Dr. Ron Swaisgood. (Find out more about Dr. Swaisgood on page 2.) You’ll find grade-specific activities for grades K-8, and you can easily modify most of the activities up or down to suit the grade level and needs of your students. We hope you and your students will “trek” to the San Diego Zoo to see giant pandas and other wildlife!
Elephant Odyssey Curriculum
The materials contained in this packet have all been specifically designed to prepare students for their visit to the Harry & Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey. Everything we do is aligned to California State Science Standards. We support your classroom studies in all curriculum areas: science, language arts, social studies, and math. If you plan your own tour of the Zoo, use the free self-guided materials we provide when you make your reservation to ensure the optimal experience. It is our hope that you and your students will come away from your visit with a newfound understanding of the unique creatures that once called Southern California home and of their descendants, now found all over the world.
Polar Bear Plunge
At the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge, one of the main goals is to inform visitors about the effects of climate change on the Arctic and polar bears. To take steps to help the bears and other Arctic wildlife, it is important for people to understand how polar bears live, their connection to their environment, the severity of the problems they are facing in the wild, and what we can all do to make a difference. This packet contains materials designed to prepare students for their visit to the Polar Bear Plunge exhibit. The curriculum is aligned with the California State Science Standards, and it provides hands-on activities and challenges for various grade levels to develop an understanding of polar bears, their habitat, and the threats they face.
Conserving San Diego's Habitats!
(Grades 6 to 12) San Diego’s diverse wild lands are a rich tapestry of life woven from many different habitats. You can move from one of the richest coastlines in the world, through mountains and ancient forests, to rugged desert wilderness in just one day. San Diego County has more threatened and endangered species than any other county in the continental U.S. But, San Diego still has hundreds of miles of healthy, thriving wild lands, too. Through conservation planning, wise development practices, and increased public awareness, these lands can remain healthy and wild for generations to come.
Koala Pouch Pack
(Grades Preschool to 12) Meet the koala. For centuries these little, sleepy, fuzzy, gray marsupials have intrigued children worldwide. Today, very real threats face the iconic eucalyptus forest denizen. Discover the secrets of the koala! The koala curriculum is an interdisciplinary learning resource that allows pre-school through high school students an opportunity to engage in hands-on, koala-centric activities. This curriculum is in line with National Science Content Standards and provides authentic learning experiences in the classroom as well as at the Zoo. Students gain a greater understanding of the renowned Australian koala, as well as a deeper appreciation for the wildlife in their own backyards. Download the appropriate field trip and classroom activities PDF:
- Preschool & Kindergarten: Similarities and Differences
- Grade 1: What Do Koalas Need to Survive?
- Grade 2: The Koala Life Cycle
- Grade 3: Koala Adaptations
- Grade 4: Where Are Koalas in the Food Chain?
- Grade 5: Investigation and Experimentation
- Grade 6–12: How Would You Design a Koala Exhibit?
- Glossary of Terms
- Teacher and Chaperone Checklist
(Grades 5 to 7) The Andros iguana Cyclura cychlura cychlura is the largest native land animal on Andros Island, Bahamas. Like many of its Caribbean rock iguana kin, this large lizard is endangered. The iguanas' primary threats are cats that eat juveniles, dogs that kill adults, and hogs that destroy the termite mounds that the females use as their nest. This education kit is designed to help students understand more about this endangered rock iguana’s situation and what we can do about it.
Where Have All the Iguanas Gone? This activity helps students understand that native iguanas survive in just 40 percent of their original habitat.
Buddies or Siblings? Determining Relatedness in Anegada Iguanas
(Grades 9 to 12) When six confiscated Anegada iguanas were given to the San Diego Zoo by authorities, it was a mixed blessing. On one hand, they were the only representatives of the critically endangered species outside of the British Virgin Islands. And if keepers at the Zoo could get them to breed, the iguanas would become the founders of a captive population, serving to safeguard against the loss of the few hundred individuals left on the Caribbean island of Anegada. But first the Zoo had to know if and how these iguanas were related.
To get to the bottom of this mystery, scientists knew they would have to compare the genes of the six iguanas to those of the wild population. Like most animals, including humans, iguanas have two microsatellites at each locus, or point, where a microsatellite occurs: one microsatellite from each parent. This lesson helps introduce students to methods for examining microsatellites to determine relatedness.
Funding for this project was provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Eco-pressure: Conserve Biodiversity of Wildlife
(Grades 6 to 9) Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the term for the number of kinds of life forms and their interactions. As the definition points out, biodiversity can be measured at different scales from the number of genes in an individual to the number of species in an ecosystem to the number of ecosystems in an area. This lesson helps students explore what biodiversity is, why it's important, and how to protect it.
Funding provided by the Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation and the Samuel I. and John Henry Fox Foundation.
Butterflies and Conservation
(Ages 7 to 12) The existence of many butterfly species is endangered because their living space—swamps or forests, for example—is being destroyed. Some kinds of butterflies feed on only one particular species of plant. If this plant disappears, the butterfly disappears, too. This is an after-school curriculum for ecology-based groups to explore butterflies and their role in conservation.