Year levels

Year 9, Year 10


See Plan Your Visit


Monday to Friday (during school term)


Australian Animals, Ecosystems / Habitats, Endangered Species, STEM

Activate Year 9-10 students’ STEM skills by designing new nesting boxes for endangered 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 9-10 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 adaptations and classification
  • How animal habitats have changed over time
  • 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 the 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.

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

This programis 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

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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