The Colchester Zoo STEM Design Challenge is a FREE project offering students from KS1-KS4 the chance to solve real-world problems faced by zookeepers and staff at Colchester Zoo. Students will redesign an animal enclosure following the STEM design process.
This FREE project and the contest are open to all groups across the country. Resources are delivered digitally and virtually and there is no need to visit Colchester Zoo to participate.
Are you a home educator, science club leader, or other education group? If so, you are also welcome to register to participate and enter the contest. Please provide details when you register!
How to participate:
- Register as part of the project by clicking the above link
- Teachers (and other leaders) can participate in an optional virtual training and information session about STEM design thinking – Feb 2024
- Students develop their enclosure design prototype and work to refine and redesign it
- Classes can (optionally) participate in a virtual feedback session on their design progress (Mar-May 2024)
- (Optional) schools classes who are visiting Colchester Zoo can attend an in-person session related to STEM thinking and enclosure design (from Mar 2024)
- Students finalise theirdesign in summer term, and submit them for entry into the Contest!
Important dates: 28th June 2024 Submission deadline for the contest, 15th Jul 2024 – Contest Winners announced
In celebration of Colchester Zoo’s 60th Birthday in 2023 and becoming a charity in 2025 , the zoo unveiled it’s ‘Zoo of the Future’ a vision of what the zoo could become. We’re now asking students to take part in this dream of a future zoo by creating their own redesigned enclosure for our mixed African species paddock – the home of our rhinoceros, giraffes and other smaller animals.
To participate in this enclosure design challenge, students will design and build an enclosure model of their vision of the future Mixed African Paddock.
Students will need to consider how to use technical innovations in enclosure design, as well as traditional design techniques to meet the needs of the animals, zookeepers, and visitors. This includes considerations such as:
- What can be done to make the enclosure more enriching for the animals?
- What can be done to make the enclosure more closely mimic a wild habitat for the animals, but also for visitor education?
- How can this enclosure be used to highlight the link between Colchester Zoo and the UmPhafa Nature Reserve, with similar species, in South Africa?
- How can visitors feel connections with the animals, and get the chance to see them, when they could be extremely far away, or in the entirely different side of the enclosure?
- How can the newly redesigned enclosure, including two large houses, allow the zookeepers to provide better care for the animals?
Many individuals are involved in enclosure design. Everyone from zookeepers, educators, artists, engineers, architects, and many others work together to consider the zookeeper needs, animal needs, and the visitor needs. This results in enclosures which are functional, easy to clean, educational, interactive, and help engage visitors with conservation. That’s a lot of function from one enclosure!
Please note, schools and other groups are welcome to register and participate in this FREE project, without requiring submission to the final contest.
All participating schools and groups will receive after registration:
- Online downloadable resource pack with information about englosure design, our animals, STEM Design thinking, worksheets, and suggested lesson plans to use these activities and resources.
- Access to online videos of interviews with our zookeepers and all about the current enclosure
- (Optional) virtual training session about STEM Designing Thinking and how it relates to enclosure design to help facilitate teaching this project
The submission deadline for schools who choose to participate in the contest is the 28th June 2024. Submissions will consist of one roughly 2 minute long video and one PDF file. Full details as to what and how to submit these digital entries will be provided by the start of summer term.
Schools and groups who submit their designs to the competition will also received:
- Digital Certificate of participation
- Access to a thank-you/completion video at the end of the contest
- Your designs displayed at Colchester Zoo*
*The logistics of this are TBC based on numbers of participating groups, etc. and will be explained in the submission gudelines released closer to the closing date.
Winning teams (of up to 6 students/children) in each age category will also receive:
- Prizes to be announced!
We can’t wait to see what you will design!