STEM for Zoo Habitat Design

Year levels

Year 5, Year 6


$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during school term)

Student Ratio

1 adult for every 10 students


Animal Welfare, Ecosystems / Habitats, STEM

Boost your Year 5-6 STEM curriculum by focusing on real-life STEM scenarios. Your students will use their creativity to design a hippo zoo habitat, which incorporates animal welfare.

Program description

Werribee Open Range Zoo is always dreaming up new ways to care for animals, both at the zoo and in the wild. 

Your students will use their STEM knowledge and skills to help Werribee Open Range Zoo solve this big challenge: 

Keepers need new ideas for the hippo habitat, including how to communicate about animal welfare 

Students will learn: 

  • How a zoo designs habitats for animals 
  • To develop their animal welfare knowledge 
  • To use Design Thinking to generate, produce and test their solutions 
  • To develop their creative thinking and growth mindset​ 

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 you 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 Werribee Open Range Zoo. They may also start to brainstorm ideas. 

Your zoo visit will include:  Introduction (for arrivals between 9:50am – 10:10am), Zoo Teacher workshop (30 minutes), Safari Bus Tour (40 minutes) 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

Zoo Map *coming soon* 

STEM for a Zoo Habitat Design Teaching Guide *coming soon* 

Learning outcomes

Victorian Curriculum 5-6 

Economics and Business

Identify types of resources (natural, human, capital) and explore the ways societies use them in order to satisfy the needs and wants of present and future generations (VCEBR003) 

  • Students will learn real-world examples of how Werribee Open Range Zoo cares for its animals in their Zoo habitat and how animal welfare is communicated to visitors 

Identify the reasons businesses exist and investigate the different ways they produce and distribute goods and services (VCEBB006) 

  • Students will become familiar with the services that Werribee Open Range Zoo provides the community and the environment  

Make decisions, identify appropriate actions by considering the advantages and disadvantages, and form conclusions concerning an economics or business issue or event (VCEBE010) 

  • Students will use a Design Thinking process to weigh up decision and create solutions for the Werribee Open Range Zoo challenge  
Design and Technologies

Generate, develop, communicate and document design ideas and processes for audiences using appropriate technical terms and graphical representation techniques (VCDSCD039) 

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

Investigate how ideas and problems can be disaggregated into smaller elements or ideas, how criteria can be used to identify gaps in existing knowledge, and assess and test ideas and proposals (VCCCTM031) 

  • Students will develop their creative thinking skills through the development of their own solutions 

Plan your excursion

STEM for Zoo Habitat Design is 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 Werribee Open Range Zoo 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 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