Tina Braun, Nicola Felka

It is widely acknowledged that zoo visits are an important tool for student`s science learning. Extracurricular education and out-of-school-experiences belong to the major emphases of teacher education at the department for bioscience education of the Goethe University Frankfurt. Together with Opel-Zoo Kronberg, we developed an educational programme that aims at motivating school groups to experience and to cherish the biodiversity through the direct dialogue with the zoo staff, interactive hands-on materials and the encounter of zoo animals.

Within the frame of their academic education at Frankfurt University student teachers can join in the seminar “Nature conservation through biology lessons”.  Participants get introduced into the theoretical backgrounds of conservation biology, zoo history and zoo pedagogy and have to design teaching concepts covering different topics of biodiversity which they implement in practise at Opel-Zoo Kronberg or other external learning sites. During their conceptual work at university and at the days in the zoo the student teachers get expert advice from university staff as well as from zoo educators. In this way the zoo becomes an informal learning environment for student teachers which enables the realization of action-orientated teaching concepts in the field of environmental education.  

Through a unique quantitative evaluation design we acquire data concerning students’ environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviour and hope to contribute to the current research base in education for sustainable development.

Only if future teachers have specific application examples they will be able to implement conservation topics in their later classes and thereby promote a profound environmental education at school. In this way visiting Opel-Zoo Kronberg and participating in the programme can be a successful tool to motivate and encourage students from school and university to enhance their interest in zoo animals and conservation work.

Publications and abstracts

Braun T & Dierkes P (2015) Experiencing Biodiversity at Opel-Zoo Kronberg. European Zoo Educators Conference 2015, March 9-12, Lisbon, Portugal (Talk).

Braun T, Ripberger V, Dierkes P (2015) Klassenzimmer am Meer - Unterrichtsmaterialien zum Schutz der Weltmeere. Schulmagazin 7/8 2015: 52-58.

Ripberger V, Braun T, Dierkes P (2012) Was frisst du? Wie Tiere im Zoo leben. Praxis Grundschule 2/2012: 4-6.