Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Smithsonian Biodiversity Science in the Classroom

Explore the natural world with your students!

Teach your upper elementary students (grades 3-6) science and math skills and concepts with outdoor activities and classroom lessons using real-life examples from Smithsonian biodiversity research.

At the heart of each lesson is an inquiry-based, outdoor activity that engages students in meaningful explorations of the natural world. Each outdoor activity is preceded by a short introductory video in which Smithsonian scientists introduce the scientific concept to be studied and the methods that the students will be using to study it. Students build critical thinking skills as they analyze data and draw conclusions from their investigations, contrasting their new understanding with their previously held assumptions about the world around them.


fungus on rotting log

Is There Life in a Decomposing Log?

A rotting log is a also a great place to explore food webs, and the organisms that make up a food web, which includes producers, consumers, and decomposers.

satellite photo of Chesapeake Bay

Settle Down: Turbidity and Water Quality

Monitoring the physical and biological characteristics of water is necessary to identifying changes in water quality, as well as understanding what causes the changes.

squirrel eating

Squirrelly Behavior

The behaviors of animals amaze us, amuse us, and sometimes confuse us. A behavior watch provides structure to an activity which is inherently interesting to most students: watching animals.

animal footprint

Animal Tracks—What do they Reveal?

Clues to an animal's behavior and biology can be found by studying the tracks it leaves behind.

Video Archive