STEM for Endangered Animals

Year levels

Year 9, Year 10


$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during school term) Available Term 3 and 4 2021 only

Student Ratio

1 adult for every 10 students


Australian Animals, Ecosystems / Habitats, Endangered Species, STEM

Activate Year 9-10 students’ STEM skills by designing new nesting boxes for endangered possums and parrots.

Term 4 program bookings will be self-guided only (no workshops). Teachers can still access the Teaching Guide resource from this page to support student learning.

Program description

The Leadbeater’s Possum lives in forests close to Melbourne. Each year, the Swift Parrot flies from Tasmania to Victoria. Innovation is key to the survival of these unique and endangered animals. In this program, Year 9-10 students will use their STEM knowledge and skills to help Healesville Sanctuary solve a big challenge, "Scientists need new nest box designs to help Leadbeater's Possums and Swift Parrots".

Your students will conduct research to deepen their understanding. They will work in teams to brainstorm ideas for one animal and choose an idea to prototype and test. This program uses an engineering framework called Design Thinking and you don't need any special materials.

Students will learn: 

  • The features, adaptations and classification of Australian animals
  • How scientists use STEM to help animals survive in the wild
  • STEM skills such as scientific observation and engineering
  • Creative thinking and problem solving skills

Program sequence

Before your visit


Use the activities in the Teaching Guide (below) to spark students curiosity of the STEM Design challenge before their zoo visit. 

During your visit

Connect and Understand 

Students will conduct research and use their scientific observation skills to deepen their understanding of the STEM Design challenge whilst at Healesville Sanctuary. They may also start to brainstorm ideas. 

Your Sanctuary visit will include: A Welcome (for arrivals between 9:50am-10:10am), 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 the zoo. 

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.

Learning outcomes

Victorian Curriculum 9-10


Advances in scientific understanding often rely on developments in technology and technological advances are often linked to scientific discoveries (VCSSU115)

  • Students will learn real-world examples of how Healesville Sanctuary scientists use their knowledge to help wildlife conservation efforts 

Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (VCSIS140)  

  • Students will present their STEM design idea and will be required to use scientific language
Design and Technologies

Apply design thinking, creativity, innovation and enterprise skills to develop, modify and communicate design ideas of increasing sophistication (VCDSCD061) 

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

Investigate the kind of criteria that can be used to rationally evaluate the quality of ideas and proposals, including the qualities of viability and workability (VCCCTM053)  

  • Students will use the criteria of a Design Brief to guide their thinking and will evaluate the quality of their design idea through a 'Refine and Test' process 

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.

All onsite excursion bookings are subject to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and as such are subject to change in line with the Victorian Chief Health Officer’s advice. We will be in contact with all teachers prior to their booked date if we need to clarify any new requirements.

Book your education experience

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

Request booking now

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