Experiential learning is the practice of teaching by involving all of the senses. It’s a method embraced by Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s EdVenture team and it provides a more well-rounded and engaging learning experience for children. CMZoo offers a unique experiential curriculum specifically for our growing community of homeschoolers, ages seven through 17, with its Hands-On Homeschool program.
Each three-hour Hands-On Homeschool program provides enriching experiences for students to investigate a science-centered theme or topic. Participants also meet an animal ambassador up-close and work with their peer groups to dig deeper into each study focus.
Each Hands-on Homeschool program builds in time for peer groups to problem solve as a team. The goal is to help students build trust and understanding with one another to help encourage learning-based dialogue. The program has been growing since it started in 2020, with many returning students and families forming a sense of community.
Hands-On Homeschool students get a closer look at the animals at the Zoo with interesting animal adaptations. One example is our thorny devil insects, found in Australia Walkabout, which proved to be the crowd favorite. Each program participant had the opportunity to touch and investigate the insect up-close. “Why are the thorny devil insect’s legs so far apart?,”one student asked. “Are their bodies squishier when they are younger and harden as they get older?,” another questioned. These sorts of interactions with EdVenture staff and fellow participants are common in these small-group classes. Up-close encounters engage students’ natural curiosities and help set a memorable foundation for knowledge.
This year, for the first time, Hands-On Homeschool programs will welcome high school participants for a series named, ‘Exploration of Ethology.’ Ethology is the study and observation of animal behavior. In the series, students will use ethograms to answer questions about the husbandry and care of animals at a Zoo, such as; What behaviors are typical for an animal species? How do you keep an animal enriched and interacting with its environment? Finding answers to these questions encourages our learners to use their critical thinking skills to embark on a journey to discover the details that add up to exemplary animal care.
Excitement is building as staff prepare to welcome our homeschooling community back to the Zoo for a new school year of experiential learning. This year’s series of Hands-On Homeschool programs will begin in September for each age group. Register in advance and see the full schedule at cmzoo.org/homeschool.