Creating Zoologists at the Elementary Level
According to Colwell et al. (2020), when students participate in an investigation or engage in scientific activities, it helps them build their understanding of what science experts do in their daily job. The field of science has many different sub-disciplines such as zoologists, biologists, engineers and even astronomers (Colwell et al, 2020). Below you will learn different activities or lessons that you can incorporate into your classroom to help your students build a deeper understanding of what a zoologist does in the field.
What is a zoologist?
A zoologist is a scientist that studies various kinds of wildlife in their natural ecosystems (Learn.org, 2022). Part of their job is to learn more about the characteristics of wildlife through research projects (Learn.org, 2022). In simple terms, you can tell your students that a zoologist is a type of scientist dedicated to studying and learning about wildlife. To help your students further understand what a zoologist does in the real world, you can show them this short video:
Bringing zoology into the classroom
Below you will find a list of lessons you could use in the classroom to help your students understand how zoologists study animals.
- Animal Habitats: This is a game you can play with your kindergarten students. You must set up your room in which each corner of the room represents a different animal habitat. You could have one corner look like a jungle habitat while another corner looks like an undersea habitat. During the game, your kindergarten students will be assigned a particular animal. Once all students are assigned an animal, your students must decide which habitat their animal belongs in. Once your students have picked which habitat they belong to, they must give a short explanation of why they selected that habitat. By the end of the lesson, your students will have a deep understanding of how habitats play a crucial role in helping animals survive (Science Buddies, 2020).
- What animals need to survive: This is a fun, engaging lesson that you can use with your kindergarten students to help them understand an animal's basic needs. In this lesson, you can allow your students to work in small groups where they pretend that they are in the process of adopting a pet. To complete the adoption process, the students must work together to create a shopping list of items that the pet will need to live. By the end of the lesson, your students will have the understanding that all living animals need food, water, shelter, and air to survive (Science Buddies, 2020).
- Making a Miniature Habitat: This is a creative lesson you can use with kindergarten through second-grade. In this lesson, your students will get a hands-on learning experience to understand that each animal species lives in a particular habitat because that habitat provides that animal with the resources it needs to survive (Science Buddies, 2020).
If you would like to check out some more lessons to help your students become more interested in what a zoologist does, check out Science Buddies Zoology Lesson Plans.
Below you can find more resources that you can use to help your students build an understanding of what a zoologist does. The first link will bring you to a website that will provide you with STEM activities that your students can either complete at school or at home that focus on topics associated with the field of zoology. The second link will bring you to another website listing ten books that focus on zoology. The last link is another website that will provide you with games, stories, hands-on activities, and videos that you can share with your students that all focus on zoology.
Colwell, J., Hutchison, A., & Woodward, L. (2020). Digitally supported disciplinary literacy for diverse k-5 classrooms. Teachers College Press.
Learn.org. (2022). Zoologist: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements. Learn.org. https://learn.org/articles/Zoologist_Job_Duties_Employment_Outlook_and_Educational_Requirements.html
Science Buddies. (2020). Zoology lesson plans. https://www.sciencebuddies.org/teacher-resources/lesson-plans/subjects/zoology
About the Author
Zandra Neighoff is a Pre-kindergarten teacher at Talbott Springs Elementary working towards a master's degree in Literacy at Loyola University Maryland.
Posted: December 19, 2022