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Thursday, February 20

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Professional learning for educators

If you’ve ever looked at our website, you may have felt overwhelmed by the number of program options we have available for students. However, the best-kept secret in Atlanta (that we are trying to tell!) is the Zoo also offers professional learning for educators. Over the past year, our Professional Learning Program was revamped, and we now offer professional learning opportunities several times throughout the year. We invite teachers to spend the day with us at the Zoo and learn new and exciting ways to immerse their students in real world connections to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Our approach to professional learning is to create exciting, unique experiences that inspire teachers to learn more and practice ways to create similar experiences for their students. This fall, we have a brand-new Professional Learning Program that is completely online and FREE! This workshop series brings conservation action to life by focusing on life history, research and conservation needs of gorillas. With one of North America’s largest populations of gorillas in human care, Zoo Atlanta is heavily involved in gorilla research and conservation. All gorilla subspecies are critically endangered as a result of habitat loss, human encroachment, disease transmission from humans, and mining. As humans are the main reason behind declining gorilla populations, we are the ones who can make changes to help save gorillas.

We want to invest in teachers for longer, more effective professional learning with this program. We will keep in touch throughout the entire school year with four virtual workshops, an online discussion board, and collaboration with teachers across Georgia. In addition to the knowledge gained and access to Zoo experts, teachers will receive curriculum, resources to implement curriculum, and a 15% off voucher to apply toward a Zoo School Program. For this first year, this program is available to 6th-12th grade teachers, but keep an eye out for a modified version for younger grades in the future.

We also have several professional learning workshops lined up for the 2018-2019 school year if you are interested in coming to the Zoo. In fall 2018, we are focusing on STEAM with animal exhibit design! Designing animal exhibits is a complex process that involves not only a physical animal space but also the interpretation and theme that guides guests through the exhibit. Participants will spend time observing animal habitats, researching, designing, and collaborating with fellow educators to create a final exhibit design for one of our animal ambassadors.

In spring 2019, our workshops are combining the world of bio-inspired design with STEAM careers. We will explore how humans learn and innovate through research of and inspiration from animals and the environment. For example, owls are the ultimate predators because their wings have a unique structure that allows them to disperse air pressure and fly silently. Engineers put the same principle to work when they designed the fast and quiet Shinkansen bullet train. In addition to brainstorming and design thinking, this workshop will explore how STEAM careers play a vital role in bio-inspired design. Both professional learning topics are divided into grade specific workshops (K-5th and 6th-12th) so material can be geared towards applicable Georgia Standards of Excellence. The cost of each workshop is $30 and includes curriculum, resources, and a planning ticket to come back to the Zoo!

For dates and times and to register for the workshops, visit here. You can also reach out to us with any questions through our Professional Learning email address, We hope to see you at the Zoo soon!

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl