ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge
Apple Valley, Minn. – Students from Forest Hills Elementary and Cedar Ridge Elementary were recognized today for their STEM skills as winners of the 2020-21 ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge. The Minnesota Zoo’s award-winning program, presented by Flint Hills Resources, is a yearlong project that challenges elementary, middle and high school students from across Minnesota to develop solutions for real zoo-based scenarios. Students broaden their creativity, math, science and engineering skills throughout the program and share their ideas in a final presentation.
This year, teams from 27 schools participated in the challenge. The top projects, as selected by the Zoo, advanced to the exhibition round, where student teams virtually presented their projects to a panel of judges comprised of staff from the Zoo, engineers from Flint Hills Resources and other STEM professionals. The top three projects at the elementary, middle and high school levels were then awarded honors in the ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge Exhibitions. Additionally, student teams were awarded prizes for the conservation, innovation, teamwork and zookeeper categories. These exhibitions are typically held at the Minnesota Zoo, but this year’s program was conducted virtually to allow students from hybrid, in-person and distance learning environments to participate.
This year, students were challenged to develop solutions to provide more enrichment for Min, a beloved 9-year-old red panda living in the Tropics Trail. Students were evaluated on their research skills used to develop ideas, the uniqueness of their ideas, plans for implementing the solution and their overall presentation.
A project by elementary students from Forest Hills Elementary placed third for their enrichment program ideas. A middle school team from Cedar Ridge Elementary earned the challenge’s Zookeeper Award for their design solutions.
- 3rd Place Enrichment Design: Forest Hills Elementary, Akshaya’s Masterpiece for Min’s Enrichment
- Zookeeper Award: Cedar Ridge Elementary, The Jellyfish/The Breakfast Ball
“We are incredibly proud of the dedicated students and teachers who participated in this year’s ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge,” said John Frawley, Director of the Minnesota Zoo and President of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation. “In a year like no other, it was important to maintain this signature program and give students an opportunity to demonstrate their creative problem-solving skills. The Minnesota Zoo will always be a place for STEM learning.”