As the zoo remains closed and unable to welcome school groups to the zoo, we decided to help bring the zoo to school pupils in the form of interactive virtual lessons. A teaser campaign was first launched on Facebook in early January to notify followers of the upcoming lesson and were amazed that this was seen by nearly 3.5 million people and attracted over 6,000 comments.
Ollie Newton-Browne, Digital Content Production Assistant at Paignton Zoo said: “It was clear by the level of engagement that we received on Facebook – the highest we have ever had, that both parents and teachers are eager to discover new and exciting ways to help support home learning. It’s a very difficult time for children, parents and teachers and as a conservation and education charity, we wanted to help support the learning of students in any way that we can.”
Paignton Zoo’s next lesson, looking at rainforests, will be on Friday 12th February at 11am. Pupils will get to see some of the rainforest animals that live at the zoo. For more information on how to take part visit their Facebook page or School from the Zoo webpage.
The first lesson was filmed in Crocodile Swamp and was aired on Friday 15th January. Some 20,000 parents and schools logged into Microsoft Teams to take part. So many, that a few viewers encountered issues with buffering. To overcome this, the lesson was shared on their parent charity – Wild Planet Trust’s YouTube channel so that viewers could watch the lesson at a time that was convenient for them.
Following the success of the lesson, the zoo decided to make the lessons a regular feature and to continue for however long lockdown lasts to support parents and teachers.
Matthew Lewis, Education Development Coordinator: “Our first lesson focused on habitats and our second featured adaptations. Both were aimed at primary key stage 2 students but all were welcome to watch. The lessons have been designed to really get pupils thinking and to engage their brains. We also included a live Q&A session at the end to give children an opportunity to join in, ask questions and provide them with follow-up tasks to embed their learning.”
Paignton Zoo is part of Wild Planet Trust. They are both registered charities striving to conserve species and habitats, and to inspire and empower people to help in the fight to protect wildlife. For more information visit www.paigntonzoo.org.uk and www.wildplanettrust.org.uk.