Monday, 02 June 2014 07:58

Animal Observation at the Krakow Zoo

International School of Krakow Elementary students learn to be animal behavior scientists with the help of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

During 2013 – 2014 school year, elementary students at the International School of Kraków took part in a research project through the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The zoo’s educational department has developed an iPad app entitled, Observe to Learn, which teaches children about the importance of observing animals’ behaviors in order to learn more about them. As an added bonus, the Lincoln Park Zoo provided the school with 5 iPads to keep for future use.

In November, Kyle Soller came to Kraków to train the teachers and students in the use of the app. The students learned about ethograms - interactive charts for recording different behaviors - and why scientists study animal behavior. They also learned about such animal behavior experts as Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. Throughout the cold winter months, students practiced with the app by watching videos of animal behavior, live cams at zoos were great for this (the penguin cam at Edinburgh Zoo was our personal favorite), or classroom pets. 

In May, Ellen Bechtol came to Krakow to visit the zoo with the students and observe how they used the app. She was here to get feedback on the pros and cons of the app in order to make improvements for future use. The students enjoyed working together to learn about animal behaviors and what these might mean. From Kindergarten to Grade 5, they were using the terminology for the different behaviors and all felt like scientists in their own right. In the future the app will be used with those grades with a heavy focus on animals in their Science curriculum. 

Mrs. Bechtol also brought a camera to the school so that we could place it in the forest surrounding the school.  This is a way for our students to find out what types of animals are living around the school.  If you are interested in setting up the Observe to Learn program in your school, contact Brett Elkei at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..