Explore how STEM topics relate to work at the zoo, as well as work being done around the world to learn about animals and save endangered species. Scroll down this page for information about booking, downloadable activity packs, and information about free STEM-based educational sessions.
To visit Colchester Zoo as part of your Science Week activities (either with a free educational session or using the self-guided resources), please complete our online booking form.
In order to qualify for discounted school entry rates to the zoo (details of prices can be found here), all visiting schools must pre-book their visit (using the above booking form). Please also be aware that spaces for the educational sessions are limited and are available on a first come first serve basis, early booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.
If you have any further questions or would like more information about any of the activities or sessions, please contact our education department directly at 01206 332511 or 01206332512 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Downloadable Activity Packs:
Schools can use our free downloadable packs to get the most out of their STEM visit. The packs contain a wide range of activities for pre-trip and post-trip classroom work, maps to help you plan your route, and activities and worksheets to complete while you’re at the zoo.
- Click here to download the STEM activity pack.
- Click here to download the MATHS activity pack.
- Click here to visit our Educational Resources page with more activity packs across a range of other STEM topics including adaptations, classification, and evolution.
Free STEM-Based Educational Session:
Unless otherwise stated, all sessions are for a maximum of 30 students and last 45 minutes.
Science in the Wild: Wildlife Rangers Pupils learn how our real life wildlife ranger team use science in the wild at our nature reserve in South Africa. Using hands-on scientific investigation, pupils will get the chance to put their skills to the test and identify what animals might be out there on the reserve based on gathered scientific evidence. This identification will involve the use of animal guides for tracks and scat as well as using dichotomous keys for harder identification skills. (great for ‘Working Scientifically’).
Maths: Pupils will get hands-on working in small groups to practice maths skills in a fun, interactive way. Groups rotate around different activities that often involve real animal artefacts, or even live animals. Activities may include: comparing patterns on tortoise shells, measuring snake skins, solving calculations involving enclosure size, timing animals’ speed over a defined distance, and more!
Darwin Explorers: Learn about Darwin’s big ideas through hands-on activities with real specimens. Pupils will travel back in time to the era of the Victorian naturalist. Armed with collecting jars, they’ll hunt for beetles and other insects just as a young Charles Darwin did. Pupils then use field journals to identify and classify the bugs they find. Continuing on the adventure, pupils focus on Darwin’s later work. Hands-on with real scientific study skins, pupils measure bird beaks and investigate how birds are adapted to specific diets. The study of bird beaks is then related back to the idea of evolution through natural selection.
Maths: Students work in small groups practicing real world hands-on maths skills. Groups rotate around different stations with animal artefacts, animal diets and even live animals. At each station, students work together to solve a maths problem including designing enclosures, calculating medicine dosages, measuring speeds, and converting currencies.
Animal Behaviour: Students discover why we study animal behaviour at Colchester Zoo. As a group, students will learn how to observe, record and interpret animal behaviours. Students practice identifying behaviours of live animals and learn the difference between innate and learned behaviours. Using this knowledge, students carry out a behavioural study. They enter this data into ethograms which will be analysed by the entire group.
Please note this session is 90 minutes, and for a maximum of 20 students.
Wildlife Forensics: Students explore the issues of illegal wildlife crime, learning about the problems of hunting, poaching, pets, souvenirs, medicine, and bushmeat. While examining real, seized artefacts of the illegal wildlife trade, students learn how organisations are helping to stop these crimes by identifying criminals and identifying the animal victims. Some of the methods, such as finger print analysis and firearm analysis may be familiar, but students will also get to try feather identification, and skull identification as well as learning about DNA analysis for species and parentage. Students will leave with new science skills and an appreciation of the threat caused by wildlife crime.