STEM for Zoo Habitat Design

Year levels

Year 7, Year 8


$19 per student


Monday to Friday (during school term)

Student Ratio

1 adult for every 10 students


Animal Welfare, Ecosystems / Habitats, STEM

This program combines STEM with Economics and Business to unleash student innovation. Your students will design a new zoo habitat for hippos and learn about 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 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 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 7-8 

Economics and Business

Explain the reasons why and the ways in which individuals and businesses set, prioritise and plan to achieve financial and organisational goals (VCEBC014) 

  • Students will learn real-world examples of how Werribee Open Range Zoo plans, designs and implements their Zoo habitats and how animal welfare is communicated to visitors 

Explore and observe the characteristics of entrepreneurs and successful businesses (VCEBB015) 

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

Generate, develop and test design ideas, plans and processes using appropriate technical terms and technologies, including graphical representation techniques (VCDSD050) 

  • Students will use Design Thinking to identify, generate, grow and test their 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 seek out problems and synthesise their thinking to develop their own creative solutions 
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

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