Posts Tagged ‘fun for kids’

Flight of the Phoenix

by | January 10th, 2011

You might not know it yet, but last year, a pilot program was introduced here at the Oakland Zoo that promises to “usher the Zoo into the 21st Century.” In a three-year sponsored partnership in collaboration with University of Phoenix, the Oakland Zoo recently announced the launch of the ZooSchool Explorer’s Club, an educational experience that combines the virtual world of the internet with the real world of the Zoo. As part of the new Life Science and Conservation Initiative, this program marks the first time that the prestigious University of Phoenix has sought to serve students in the elementary grade levels.

University of Phoenix isn’t your average institution of higher learning. Created in 1976 by Cambridge-educated

Donor Reception w UOP Display

UOP Display at Zoo Donor Reception

economist and professor, Dr. John Sperling, the University aspired to a novel goal: to cater specifically to working students by offering a variety of services largely unavailable at the time. These included such student-friendly conveniences as evening classes, flexible scheduling, continuous enrollment, a digital library and, most notably, online classes. Today, with 20 years of experience in online education, University of Phoenix has risen from modest beginnings to become the largest private university in North America, with 200 campuses nationwide, as well as online services in most countries of the world.

Now, as it partners with the Oakland Zoo, University of Phoenix enters into a new era with the Explorer’s Club, educating and inspiring school students from grades one through five.

The Explorer's Club Passport

The Explorer’s Club was created to improve the experience of school visitors, to address the needs of the Zoo in terms of animal treatment, and to foster conservation, community service and activism. The program is structured around a trio of elements:  the Oakland Zoo’s CA Science Standards-based ZooSchool curriculum, a fun and informative Passport pamphlet for Zoo visitors to use on self-guided tours, and an exciting interactive website with supporting activities correlated to the in-class curriculum. By facilitating curriculum online, the program can promote science literacy for those who can’t come to the Zoo in person.

The Explorer’s Club was designed, ultimately, to serve an extensive and diverse audience of teachers and students. Toward this goal, the Oakland Zoo’s Zoo-To-Community scholarship program benefits from University of Phoenix support with bus transportation,  Zoo admission, and educational programs for Oakland Unified School District and West Contra Costa Unified School District Title One  schools.

The Explorer’s Club website is now up and running. Simplified reservation procedures, descriptive programming, along with supplemental activities, serve as the foundation for an outstanding experience. At this time, grades one, three, and five offer fun interactive learning opportunities with an emphasis on conservation. A kindergarten module is in development, as that grade has been re-implemented after a yearlong hiatus. The Passport is also ready to go, having been put together by the Oakland Zoo’s Marketing Department. Designed with the same dimensions of a real passport, it contains several fun activities that inspire investigative learning and drawing, as well as guidelines for your Zoo safari and a complete map of the Oakland Zoo.

Passport Games and Map

The Explorer’s Club launched officially on November 15. You can find it on the Oakland Zoo website at www.oaklandzoo.org by clicking on “Education” and then “Featured Programs.”  So don’t miss out on the fun and learning. Bring your class to the Oakland Zoo and experience your own self-guided safari with the new Explorers’ Club!

It Takes A Village To Raise A Camp

by | July 2nd, 2010

You might not realize it, but it takes the entire Oakland Zoo to ensure the success of ZooCamp every summer– not just the folks in Conservation & Education. Every single department at the Zoo makes a valuable contribution to this popular kids’ program which has been a summertime tradition here for more than twenty years. After speaking with ZooCamp Director Sarah Cramer, I learned exactly what those contributions were.

1. Getting the word out is crucial to the success of any event. The Marketing department provides the advertising that lets our Zoo visitors know about the program, utilizing local parents’ magazines and websites, billboards, fliers and inserts in the Oakland Zoo visitors’ maps. They also arrange appearances on TV programs such as View from the Bay and KRON 4 Morning News.

2. The Oakland Zoo has a large active membership throughout the East Bay and beyond, providing a valuable resource of potential ZooCamp attendees. Our Membership department provides ZooCamp information in Uproar, the monthly electronic newsletter that reaches up to 24,000 people. The membership department also assists Zoo members who wish to register for camp.

Preparing the Picnic Areas

3. The Maintenance department purchases various materials needed for camp. They also maintain and repair any equipment the camp staff uses.

4. Our Human Resources department helps facilitate the hiring of the seasonal teachers and other help needed to run ZooCamp.

5. Group Services helps by directing inquiries to the ZooCamp registrar. They also help facilitate the use of the auditorium as well as picnic sites, allowing campers to enjoy their lunches outdoors.

6. With a quarter million dollars in revenue, ZooCamp depends on the Accounting department to ensure that the bills are paid and that the revenue is accurately reported.

7. The Operations staff ups the Fun Factor by letting the campers enjoy complimentary rides on the train and the sky ride.

Our Janitorial Staff

8. The Janitorial staff provides additional re-stocking of the restrooms as well as extra clean-up for those “special messes” that kids are so good at producing (such as mud from playing in the creek).

9. Our Development department raises money for the Vicki Kay Memorial Scholarship Fund, through individual and foundation grants.

10. The Grounds department increases the frequency of trash pick-ups, sets out yellow jacket traps, power-washes the Wildlife Theater, and rearranges their schedule for auditorium set-ups and break-downs to accommodate the camp groups that need the facility. They also adjust their lawn mowing schedule to allow the camp kids to use the lawns throughout the day.

11. Taking a break from their ongoing weeding and watering, the Horticulture staff gathers branches, palm fronds and other plant matter to give the kids “fort-building” materials for their survival classes.

12. The Animal Management & Veterinary Care departments help make the vital connection between campers and the Zoo animals, leading behind-the-scenes tours, providing service projects as well as helping to teach some of the classes.

13. Our Public Safety department provides first aid and CPR classes for ZooCamp staff, and manages auto traffic amid the hectic comings and goings each morning and afternoon.

14. And lastly, the Conservation and Education Department:

They teach the classes, lead the tours, organize the crafts and games, lead the songs and bandage the occasional skinned knee. Even the non-teaching staff members help by assisting with Animal Close-ups, dealing with the sick or injured campers, training the seasonal staff and providing administrative support.

Happy Campers

So the next time you see a bunch of smiling ZooCampers in their little matching T-shirts, just remember all the dedicated Zoo employees who help make those smiles possible. And don’t forget to tell your young ones about the cool outdoor fun awaiting them at Oakland ZooCamp every summer!