Garlough students win Minnesota Zoo competition
Garlough students place first in Minnesota Zoo competition
Posted on 04/18/2018

Winning Zooms Team PhotoOn March 20, Nicola Lotti, Savannah Barry and Bryn Christopherson from Garlough Environmental Magnet School were awarded first place in the state-wide 2018 ZooMS Design Challenge at the Minnesota Zoo.

This was the fourth year the Minnesota Zoo has offered this program and the second-consecutive year Garlough students have placed first in the Elementary Enrichment Design category.  

This year’s Elementary Enrichment Design challenge was focused on making an enclosure for the Zoo’s Amur Tiger pack. The challenge included creating innovative enrichment ideas that not only encourage the tigers’ natural behaviors, but also considers their individual needs, safety and exhibit use.

To prepare for this project, students spent a significant amount of time researching and learning the habits, behaviors and habitat of the specific tigers that live at the Minnesota Zoo. Students did this through online research, materials provided by the Minnesota Zoo and consulting zookeepers.

Presentations included poster boards and multi-media displays that shared facts about the tigers. Students also built a 3D model of the tiger enclosure they designed. 

At the competition, students presented their projects and designs to representatives from the Zoo, who then judged them based on their creative ability, use of engineering, value and practicality of the solution, teamwork, and presentation skills.

The ZooMs program is a great opportunity for students to display their knowledge of tigers while practicing their communication and presentation skills. The students also had a chance to meet peers from other schools.

Representatives from the Zoo commented that Garlough students not only showed tremendous knowledge of the tiger habitat, behaviors and needs, but also saw the larger purpose of the design challenge and the bigger picture of why zoos need to focus on an animal's environment—which is ultimately to support populations struggling in the wild. 

“After our presentation, [the judges] were very impressed,” said one of the winning team members. “They said they didn’t have any questions for us because we explained it all.” 

In addition to their first place victory, the team won a backstage experience with the Minnesota Zoo's kangaroos. 

Congratulations to all of the students who competed in this year’s ZooMS Design Challenge!

Learn more about this year’s challenge online.