Teaching Safari

Experience the joy of learning at Brookfield Zoo...
Join the Summer 2023 Teaching Safari!

The application window for the Summer 2023 Teaching Safari opens February 1, 2023.

Spaces in the class are limited. Applications are considered on a “first come, first serve” basis with an eye toward creating learning cohorts that maximize impact for educators and professional learning communities. Educators in Chicago Public Schools and in Title I Schools are highly encouraged to apply!

On the Brookfield Zoo Teaching Safari, you will:

  • Enhance your content knowledge of conservation, animals, and ecosystems.
  • Explore effective, equity-minded classroom strategies to support student inquiry, critical thinking, conceptual understanding, argumentation based on evidence, student ownership, and engagement in all subject areas.
  • Discover new ways to develop conservation awareness in your students and to enrich learning through zoo resources and exhibits.
  • Reflect on your classroom practice and receive feedback from experienced zoo educator program facilitators via discussion sessions and assignment feedback throughout the year.
  • Connect and expand your professional learning community by becoming a part of our Brookfield Zoo Teaching Safari Network and enjoy free registrations for designated online and in-person professional development events.
  • Receive 35 free professional development hours, a Certificate of Completion from Brookfield Zoo, complimentary zoo passes for your immediate family, and a $200 stipend.*

Content and strategies explored on the Teaching Safari are informed by Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and the Danielson Framework. (Although the Teaching Safari is targeted to grades 3-8, strategies can be adapted for students at all K-12 grade levels.)

The Teaching Safari consists of four full-day, onsite sessions at Brookfield Zoo (two days in June; two days in August), and one 60-minute virtual monthly “check in” session. In addition to attending and participating in these classes, participants will create a reflection assignment and a lesson plan applying program content to practice.

*     *     *     *     *

*IEIN number, documentation of attendance at all sessions per ISBE guidelines, and completion of reflections/lesson plans per rubric are required for professional development hours. Certificate, stipend, zoo passes, and network benefits will be awarded upon completion of all program requirements. 


Brookfield Zoo Teacher Network members will receive a 20% discount on Web+ Classes in the Advanced Inquiry Program (“AIP”) Master's Program. AIP is a master's degree program offered by Brookfield Zoo in partnership with Miami University, Ohio. The AIP Master's degree program focuses on education, sustainability, and local conservation actions. For more information, contact Agnes.Kovacs@czs.org.


Teaching Safari Session Itinerary:

This June 2023, our safari begins with a two-day expedition focused on Brookfield Zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness, inhabited by brown bears, polar bears, bison, and the bald eagle! As you learn about these amazing animals, you will explore a variety of inquiry-based, student-centered teaching strategies that you can apply in your classroom across subject areas.

In August 2023, teachers will return for another two-day adventure combining educator professional development to support student learning as we explore The Swamp, The Living Coast, Hamill Family Wild Encounters, Hamill Family Play Zoo, and the Desert’s Edge.

June 2023

Great Bear Wilderness Expedition

Two full days at Brookfield Zoo:

Day 1

  • Introduction: What is Conservation Leadership? Developing Conceptual Understanding Through Equity-Based, Student-Centered Teaching 
  • Observing Bears as Phenomena: A Gateway to Inquiry and Problem-Based Learning 

Day 2

  • Brown Bear “Food for Thought”: Sensemaking with Mathematical Data and Scientific Models
  • A Habitat for Bears in The Human Heart: Exploring Diverse Perspectives Through Art and Empathy 



August 2023

Zoo Variety

Two more full days at Brookfield Zoo:

Day 3

  • The Swamp - Swamp Music: Keeping Learning “In Tune” with Student Schema, Language, and Experience.
  • The Living Coast - Transform "Ho-Hum" Science Activities with Humboldt Penguins: Planning and Carrying Out Student-Centered Investigations Through Inquiry 

Day 4

  • Hamill Family Play Zoo & Hamill Family Wild Encounters - Strategies for Empowering Students to Access and Take Ownership of Learning in School and Beyond. 
  • Big Cats - Big Cats & Big Learning: Building Collaboration and Understanding through Student-Centered Assessment. 

Plus, one, 1-hour virtual “Check In” sessions is scheduled in July 2023.

Apply Today!

Choose your schedule:

Choose an itinerary that fits your schedule! We encourage two or more educators to register from the same school to help support your professional learning community. (Please choose one option. Monday/Tuesday and Wednesday/Thursday schedules cannot be combined.)


Option 1: Monday/Tuesday Teaching Safari

Please choose one schedule. Schedules cannot be combined. 

Apply Today!

Option 2: Wednesday/Thursday Teaching Safari

Please choose one schedule. Schedules cannot be combined. 

Apply Today!

Ready to Safari?

The Teaching Safari program is presented by the Institute for Science Teaching Excellence (ISTE) at Brookfield Zoo to support educators in teaching Science and Conservation Leadership. Conservation Leadership encompasses not only an understanding of animals and ecosystems, but empathy, joy, and appreciation for the natural world shared in a spirit of equity and stewardship. We look forward to taking this safari with you!

 If you are interested in receiving information about upcoming Teaching Safari opportunities and professional development programs at Brookfield Zoo, please provide your contact information here: 

Notify me of Future Opportunities


Have questions? 

If you have questions, please contact Patsy Steinmeyer at ISTE@czs.org.

The Institute of Science Teaching Excellence is made possible in part by support from: Polk Bros. Foundation, the Christopher Family Foundation, Nicor Gas, Northrop Grumman, and State Farm®.