Story by School News Network: If you’re going to design an otter habitat and otters won’t or can’t comment, your next best bet might be to go to sixth-graders. That’s what John Ball Zoo did. Nearly 200 Central Woodlands 5/6 students worked in teams to research and develop plans for what they saw as an ideal renovated otter exhibit at the Northwest Grand Rapids zoo. What they came up with was 39 team-created exhibits with features that ranged from underground, underwater viewing areas; to wheelchair-accessible visitor observation towers; to a clear tube slide for the playful mammals to show off their skills and still be able to see and be seen in their surroundings. The pilot project, which grew out of a three-year partnership teacher Patty Tolly had had with the zoo, got a boost via a $600 grant from the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation that made it possible for students to attend the inaugural design process class at the zoo. A $1,000 destination innovation grant gave teachers the time to meet with zoo officials and plan the project.
To learn more about the otter project and the ultimate selection process, see pictures of the proposed habitats and exhibits, read more online with School News Network.