STEM for Endangered Animals

Year levels

Year 9, Year 10


$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during school term)

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.

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, your students will choose one of these big STEM challenges to solve: 

Scientists need new nest box designs to help Leadbeater’s Possums

Scientists need new nest box designs to help Swift Parrots

Students will learn: 

  • How scientist uses STEM to help endangered animals thrive in the wild 
  • To develop STEM skills, such as scientific observation and Design Thinking 
  • To express their ideas through Project-based Learning 
  • To enhance their creative thinking skills 

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, your students can share their designs with Zoos Victoria.

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 zoo visit will include: Introduction, 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


Back at school, students will work in teams of up to six people and choose an idea to work on. The Teaching Guide will help you use an engineering framework called Design Thinking, which helps teams quickly translate their ideas into prototypes. 


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

Program resources

Healesville Sanctuary Map *coming soon* 

STEM for Endangered Animals Teaching Guide *coming soon* 

Learning outcomes

Victorian Curriculum 9-10


The values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (VCSSU116)  

  • Students will consider how individual and social behaviours impact the survival of endangered animals  

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

  • Back in the classroom, students can present their ideas using 3D models, oral presentations, multimodal presentations and contributing to group discussions  
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 generate, grow and test their ideas for animal conservation 
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 a Design Brief and Assessment Criteria to guide their thinking and 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.

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.