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


January - December 2020


Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Werribee Open Range Zoo


$19 per student (includes zoo admission)

STEM Excursions

Year 3-10 programs now available

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.

When you book your STEM excursion, you will be sent 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 prototype designs in the STEM Design Challenge competition.

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

How the STEM Design Challenge works


Your excursion will involve a STEM workshop and time for students to conduct their research. Students will participate in the Empathise and Define stages of Design Thinking. This includes understanding different perspectives and each student defining the problem in their own way.

2. IDEATE possible solutions

Back at school, teams (of up to six students) will participate in the Ideate stage of Design Thinking. They will imagine and express their ideas for solving the challenge. They will then choose one idea to prototype and test.

3. PROTOTYPE an idea

Your students will use their STEM skills and knowledge to undertake the Prototype stage of Design Thinking. They will build a model of their idea using recycled materials from home, items from an art room or any other technology that's available.


During the Test and Refine stages of Design Thinking, your students will test their prototype by sharing it with an audience, which can include their peers or an expert from outside your school. They could also test their prototype by creating a workable version. They will refine their prototype after testing.


After completing their prototypes, student teams are invited to enter the STEM Design Challenge competition. They’ll submit a video of up to 2 minutes for each prototype. You will get a Teaching Guide when you book your excursion. This contains fun activities and the judging criteria. Check out the competition page for how to enter, key dates and prizes.