Birmingham Zoo launches zoo school for kids - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Birmingham Zoo launches zoo school for kids

By Katie Herrera

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - On Monday morning, Bulwagi the 29-year-old African Bull Elephant at the Birmingham Zoo was lifting his trunk and waving his tail, but it was not just for show. Bulwagi was a learning tool for a class of Daniel Payne 7th graders who were watching.

"We learned that when he was younger he fell and broke his tusk, and he weighs 11,600 pounds!" explained Alana Bennett.

The Birmingham Zoo kicked off Monday its Trails of Africa ZooSchool, a program where students spend a week learning all about Africa.

Each day students tackle different topics. Mondays are about the elephant, ecosystems and geography. Tuesdays they study the people and villages of Africa. The drastic water shortage is the topic for Wednesdays. Thursdays they discuss the research being done in Africa. And on Fridays, the students put it all together into group projects.

"They're going to create a model of whatever their strategic action plan is to help an issue that's happening in Africa. My goal the week they come is to get them to look at a big picture," said ZooSchool Director Andy McKinney.

The curriculum was built based on standardized testing requirements.

"We're covering math - how much Bulwagi eats. We're talking about science. We're talking social studies with migration patterns. We're talking English folklore. And all those things associated with Africa," explained Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon.

"Now we have an additional tool to make sure you get hands on experience that no other child in this state will have," said Birmingham Mayor William Bell.

All 7th grade classes from Daniel Payne, Bush Middle School, Washington K-8 School and A.G. Gaston K-8 School will attend ZooSchool.

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