As a group of teachers from across the state entered the room for one recent professional learning session, they were greeted by some animals that you don’t normally see in a reception area.
In a pen in the center of the room, an armadillo ran excitedly back and forth. A hedgehog sat in the hands of Jo Barrett, sniffing the air. And around the outside of the room, a tegu – a large, 3-ft. long lizard – walked, flicking the air with its tongue.
The teachers had come to take part in the Louisville Zoo in 3D event, a day focused on showing educators that the zoo can be a valuable educational tool.
“The goal is to show teachers that the zoo is more than just a field trip opportunity,” said Jennifer Payne, a teacher from Daviess County. “The teachers today aren’t just getting a chance to see cool animals, they’re walking away with curriculum to take home.”
After their morning greeting in the reception area, the teachers sat in on a session with Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt, who spoke on the importance of three-dimensional science teaching and framing science education around natural phenomenon. Terri Roth, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), who spoke on her experiences in creating breeding populations of endangered species, such as the Sumatran rhino.
Finally, they were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo’s facilities, including the housing area for the bears, tigers and sea lions.
“I loved seeing the tigers up close,” said Alex Waddell, a 2nd-grade teacher at Conkwright Elementary School (Clark County). “It was really impressive to see everything that they do.”
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) publishes Kentucky Teacher to communicate directly with the state’s 40,000 public school teachers. The stories of this award-winning publication include news, perspectives, and practical, workable ideas for guiding students to higher levels of achievement.