A small group of students and zoo staff smiling for the camera while holding a grey ball and a plush toy elephant.

STEM Design Challenge


Monday 15 July - Friday 20 December 2019


Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Werribee Open Range Zoo


$19 per student (includes zoo admission)


On-demand, Monday to Friday

Inspire your students to solve authentic and real-world STEM problems with this integrated program for Years 3-10.

The STEM Design Challenge engages Year 3-10 students through real-world scenarios at the zoo. In this unique and limited time only program, students will find solutions to complex problems using their skills, knowledge and an engineering framework called Design Thinking.

You will be given a teaching guide to help you with every step of the Challenge. You don’t need a STEM lab or special materials. 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. Students are also welcome to enter their designs in the STEM Design Challenge competition

How the STEM Design Challenge works

  1. UNDERSTAND the challenge
    Choose a challenge and book your zoo visit. Students will participate in a special education program that includes at STEM workshop and research opportunities

  2. IDEATE possible solutions
    Back at school, teams of up to six students will brainstorm their ideas and choose one to prototype 

  3. PROTOTYPE an idea
    Students will build a prototype of their idea using their STEM skills. They could use recycled materials from home, items from your art room or any technology available

  4. TEST AND REFINE a prototype
    Students will test their prototype by sharing it with an audience, which can include their peers or an expert from outside your school

    After completing their prototypes, student teams of up to six people are invited to enter the STEM Design Challenge competition. They’ll submit a video of up to 2 minutes for each prototype. Each program teaching guide includes the judging criteria. Winning teams will meet with relevant zoo staff and experience a behind-the-scenes animal encounter (transport costs to and from the zoo are included).

Competition closing dates

  • Term 3-4: Friday 15 November 2019
  • Term 1-2: Friday 19 June 2020
  • Term 3-4: Friday 20 November 2020

Term 3-4 2019 challenges

A portrait of a Lemur
Melbourne Zoo

Caring for Animals – help keepers design Meerkat or Lemur enrichment

A side protrait of a Brush-tailed rock wallaby
Healesville Sanctuary

Saving Endangered Species – help scientists research and protect Tasmanian Devils or Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies

A keeper at Werribee Open Range Zoo presenting to a crowd
Werribee Open Range Zoo

Running a Zoo – help Zoo managers keep people safe and provide a fun experience for visitors

Term 1-2 2020 challenges

Two lions in a tree

Caring for Animals – help keepers design giraffe or lion enrichment

Leadbeater's possum on a branch

Saving Endangered Species – help scientists design new nesting boxes for the Leadbeater’s Possum and Swift Parrot

Wild dog

Running a Zoo – help the Zoo Shop Manager design a new product that raises money for African animals