Close up profile view of Meerkats face. Good detail of eyes and all whiskers visible.

Caring for Animals

Year levels

Year 7 & Year 8


$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during the school term)

Student Ratio

1 adult for every 10 students



Activate your students' STEM knowledge and skills by solving real-life Zoo problems. This program is part of the STEM Design Challenge 2019 (Terms 3 and 4).

Introducing Melbourne Zoo's STEM Design Challenge 2019: Caring for Animals.

The mental and physical wellbeing of animals is of the highest importance to the keepers at Melbourne Zoo. They use enrichment – activities and enclosure designs that enable animals to use their senses, move their bodies and behave in natural ways. Zoo keepers constantly need new enrichment ideas so that they can continue to maintain first-rate animal welfare.

The STEM Design Challenge is a unique education program that helps Year 7-8 students use their STEM knowledge and skills in real-life scenarios.

In Terms 3 and 4, Melbourne Zoo has two big challenges to solve:

  1. Keepers need a variety of enrichment ideas to care for Ring-tailed Lemurs
  2. Keepers need a variety of enrichment ideas to care for Meerkats

When you visit Melbourne Zoo, your students will learn about Zoo animals and the work of keepers. An educator will share behind-the-scenes stories and introduce them to Lemurs and Meerkats. Your students will  research animal enrichment around the Zoo and start to think of solutions.

Back at school, students will work in teams of up to six people and choose one of the big challenges to focus on. The Teaching Guide will help you teach using an engineering framework called Design Thinking. Design Thinking assists student teams to quickly turn their ideas into projects and prototypes.

You don’t need a STEM lab or special materials to teach this fun and innovative challenge. Some teachers use this program to teach a whole-term unit while others use it as a special 2-3 week program – the choice is yours!

After completing their prototypes, students can also enter the STEM Design challenge competition. Entries close on Friday 15 November 2019.

Activity Duration
Welcome and introduction to your day 15 minutes
Session with a STEM educator  40 minutes
Keeper presentations 30 minutes
Zoo research 2-3 hours


Program resources

Learning outcomes


Science and technology contribute to finding solutions to a range of contemporary issues; these solutions may impact on other areas of society and involve ethical considerations (VCSSU089)

  • Students will learn how animal welfare codes drive the science and technology used by Keepers at the Zoo

There are differences within and between groups of organisms; classification helps organise this diversity (VCSSU091)

  • Students will practice grouping animals based on their similarities and differences
Design and Technologies

Generate, develop and test design ideas, plans and processes using appropriate technical terms and technologies including graphical representation techniques (VCDSCD050)

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

Consider how problems can be segmented into discrete stages, new knowledge synthesised during problem-solving and criteria used to assess emerging ideas and proposals (VCCCTM042)

  • Students will learn how to use each stage of Design Thinking to synthesise their thinking and develop their own creative solutions – Understand, Ideate, Prototype, Test and Refine

Personal and Social Capability (optional)

Perform in a variety of team roles and accept responsibility as a team member and team leader, assessing how well they support other members of the team (VCPSCSO041)

  • Back in the classroom, students will be working in groups of up to 6 people and will be expected to collaborate during the Design Thinking process

Plan your excursion 

Bring what students need to record their research e.g. written notes, drawings, photographs, voice memos, short videos, diagrams. They will also need to dress for the weather.

The organising teacher should make themselves known to Admission Staff via the Members Express Lane to arrange payment. More information

Book your excursion

Call (03) 9340 2788

You will need the following to book your excursion:

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