Phoenix Zoo Course Descriptions
Course schedule and descriptions subject to change.
The course will provide participants with the tools needed to make science a fun and enjoyable learning experience while further increasing their competence and confidence levels in the field. The course will include pre-inquiry assessment tools, individual inquiry investigations, interdisciplinary learning and inquiry techniques, and critical thinking skills. Participants will carry out original inquiry investigations. In this course students will explore inquiry not only as a tool for integrated learning, but as a powerful agent for student achievement, public engagement in science, and ecological stewardship.
Through this course, students will develop the investigation, critical reflection, and collaboration skills needed to lead inquiry-driven learning for diverse audiences. They will learn to develop a comparable question, design an inquiry-driven scientific study, and will develop their skills in scientific writing and research.
- Use inquiry to drive learning in science and integrated topics.
- Develop a detailed understanding of the cycle of inquiry and types of inquiry questions.
- Develop curricular or other learning resources for professional use.
- Acquire research experience in the Life Sciences, e.g., on the structure, function, behavior and evolution of plants and animals.
Environmental Stewardship in My Community
5 in person discussion dates combined with online content, Summer Year 2
In this course participants will use inquiry-based learning to explore local and global conservation issues and then develop personal solutions to enact in their classroom or community. Participants will finish the course with an understanding of a broad-scope of conservation issues affecting wildlife and habitats as well as strategies for overcoming sustainability challenges.
- Principles of sustainability and community-based conservation
- Local and global conservation issues – causes, impacts and solutions
- Tools for measuring and understanding personal impact
- Strategies for engaging communities and groups in conservation action
Southwest Wildlife Conservation
5 in person discussion dates combined with online content, Summer Year 3
Participants will work alongside Zoo-based conservation biologists and researchers from some of the Phoenix Zoo’s partner organizations to see first-hand how laboratory and field techniques are used to forward important conservation efforts in the Southwest region. Throughout the course, participants will gain important research skills, develop an understanding of regional wildlife issues and their solutions, and explore techniques to engage students and community members in ongoing conservation solutions.
- How scientific inquiry is used to solve local wildlife conservation issues
- Field methods employed in wildlife research and conservation
- Current issues and solutions for Southwest wildlife and habitat conservation
- Techniques for engaging students and community members in citizen science projects and other outdoor science exploration
4 in person sessions combined with online content
There are three Zoo Expeditions courses that will be offered each Fall on a rotating schedule. Zoo Expeditions turn the Zoo into a living laboratory to offer hands-on exploration while you investigate the specified theme.
Zoo Expeditions: Habitat, Adaptations, and Evolution
In this course, participants will use the Phoenix Zoo as a laboratory to explore and understand habitats, adaptations, and evolutionary theory. Through inquiry investigations, zoo tours, group activities, and discussions, participants will explore key questions about diversity and the relationship between species and their habitats. Participants will also explore strategies for engaging students in inquiry investigations with species and habitats.
- The relationship between species and their habitats
- Methods for investigating diversity and adaptation
- Theory of evolution
- The importance of biological diversity
Zoo Expeditions: Animal Behavior and Conservation
In this course, participants investigate wildlife conservation and behavior through direct observation at the Phoenix Zoo. Opportunities will be provided for comparative studies on topics including social structure, reproductive behavior, and animal communication. This course will provide a foundation for understanding zoo-based and field-based animal behavior research methods and how these methods contribute to wildlife conservation solutions. Though each time the course is offered it will focus on a different group of animal species, participants will also benefit from a broad overview of the current research projects facilitated or funded by the Phoenix Zoo.
- Classification and taxonomy of the focus animal group
- Principles of animal behavior
- Methods for behavioral studies
- How behavioral studies contribute to conservation strategies for the focus animal group
- Applying inquiry-based learning strategies to the study of animal behavior and conservation
- Strategies for using the zoo and zoo resources for studies of animal behavior and conservation
Zoo Expeditions: The Impact of Zoo and Non-formal Education
In this course, participants will explore the benefits of connecting classroom curriculum or community-based learning with non-formal science institutions. By developing and implementing visitor studies projects, participants will not only learn first-hand the benefits of non-formal science learning but also have the opportunity to contribute to a growing field of research. The course will also explore the most recent techniques for teaching STEM in non-formal settings, including an emphasis on nature-based and sustainability education.
- Visitor studies research design and methodologies
- Strategies for engaging students and community members in non-formal science learning that supports the formal education system
- The importance of creating outdoor and nature-based learning opportunities as part of STEM education
- Review of current and historical research on non-formal and out-of-classroom learning
- Strategies for promoting the importance and value of non-formal learning institution in the community
Master Plan in Action
Required in Summer Year 2
In this course, participants will perform the largest body of work towards their master plan. Although the course is self-led, students will meet four times for peer review sessions to discuss their progress and offer advice and assistance with each other’s design and data analysis. Students will work to develop a time line for completion of their Master Plan. They will also begin developing a cohesive body of work for inclusion in the e-Portfolio, potentially designing and implementing side projects to enhance the overall quality of their projects. Students will further their understanding of experimental design and data analysis as well as develop critical review skills.
- Development of the student Master Plan
- Further development of peer review skills
- Create a timeline for completion of the Master Plan
- Improve literature-based researchskills
- Develop critical review skills when reading primary literature
Independent Study or Internship
1 – 3 credits
Available each semester starting Fall Year 2
This course provides AIP students with the opportunity to work one-on-one with zoo professionals and/or community leaders on projects that directly contribute in specific ways to the student’s Master Plan and overall master’s skill set. The experience is intended to be pragmatic, and the student is expected to take on significant independent responsibilities within the chosen internship.
Internships should fall outside the normal day-to-day tasks conducted at students’ workplaces. Internships should also be distinctly different than work used in other Advanced Inquiry Program courses including Master Plan in Action, Masters Capstone, all Leadership Challenges, Community Engagement Labs, and others.
Examples of internship projects include analyzing information to share with a public audience, designing a new community outreach initiative, developing community conservation or education programs, and more. Internships may be held at the zoo (e.g., working with a visitor engagement initiative), community organization (e.g., Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, Parks Department), or both.
Students will develop the “real-world” skills needed to be productive contributors to their chosen fields of study. Depending on the student’s Master Plan, each student will develop a unique set of skills that will enhance their Master Plan objectives. These skills may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Develop solutions to complex conservation and/or education problems
- Network and work collaboratively with professionals in their chosen fields
- Explore career opportunities and develop a more informed plan for post-graduation success
- Identify and refine student-created goals in light of the internship experience