STEM for Endangered Animals

Year levels

Year 3, Year 4


See Plan Your Visit


Monday to Friday (during school term)


Australian Animals, Ecosystems / Habitats, Endangered Species, STEM

Ignite Year 3-4 students’ love of STEM through the design of new nesting boxes for possums and parrots.

Program description

The Leadbeater’s Possum lives in forests close to Melbourne. Each year, the Orange-bellied Parrot flies from Tasmania to Victoria. Innovation is key to the survival of these endangered animals.

In this program, Year 3-4 students will help Healesville Sanctuary scientists design new nest box designs for these possums and parrots. Students will conduct research to build their science and technology understanding. They will work in teams to choose an idea to prototype. This program uses an engineering framework called Design Thinking and you don't need any special materials.

Students will learn: 

  • Australian animal features and basic needs
  • How scientists use STEM to protect animals in the wild
  • STEM skills, such as scientific observation and Design Thinking
  • How to use creative thinking skills to solve a complicated problem

Program sequence

Before your visit


Use the activities in the Teaching Guide (below) to spark students curiosity before their Healesville Sanctuary visit. Read through the Design Brief with students to introduce them to the big challenge.

During your visit

Connect and Understand 

Students will conduct research and use their scientific observation skills to deepen their understanding of Australian animals and nesting boxes.

Your Sanctuary visit will include: A Welcome (for arrivals between 9:50am-10:10am), a Healesville Sanctuary Teacher workshop (40 minutes), Spirits of the Sky presentation and keeper talks. Check out your Teaching Guide for other ideas of what to do at Healesville Sanctuary.

After your visit


Use activities in the Teaching Guide to deepen students’ learning back at school.


Use the Teaching Guide to bring design ideas to life and enable students to master their knowledge and skills in real-world contexts.

Program maps and itineraries

Digital maps will be provided to you on the day.

Program resources

Learning outcomes

Victorian Curriculum 3-4


Science knowledge helps people understand the effects of their actions (VCSSU056) 

  • Students will learn how Recovery Team scientists evaluate human and environmental impact on endangered animals 

Different living things have different life cycles and depend on each other and the environment to survive (VCSSU058) 

  • Students will learn about what environmental conditions help animals thrive in the wild 
Design and Technologies

Generate, develop, and communicate design ideas and decisions using appropriate technical terms and graphical representation techniques (VCDSCD029) 

  • Students will use Design Thinking to generate, grow and test their ideas for animal conservation 
Critical & Creative Thinking

Investigate a range of problem-solving strategies, including brainstorming, identifying, comparing and selecting options, and developing and testing hypotheses (VCCCTM020) 

  • Students will learn how to use each stage of Design Thinking to develop their own creative solutions 

Plan your excursion

STEM for Endangered Animalsis an outdoor all-weather program; the students will need appropriate clothing for weather conditions. This could include a raincoat, hat and sun protection.  

Bring what students need to record their research e.g. notes, drawings, photographs, videos, voice memos, diagrams.  

School groups will enter Healesville Sanctuary via the Main Entrance. Organising teachers please check in with our Admissions team upon arrival. More information   

Book your education experience

Fill out an online form to request a booking for your zoo education experience

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You will need to know the following to book your zoo excursion or online workshop:

  • Education program of your choice (if applicable)
  • Preferred date
  • School name and address
  • Contact details of organising teacher
  • Number of students/classes and their year level