School Programs

Available for Grades Pre-K - 8
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Enhance your school's field trip to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo with a classroom session (located in the Zoo's Visitor’s Center) or on a guided "trek" through the Zoo. These engaging, inquiry-based, discussion-oriented lessons are designed to correspond to with Common Core standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and Virginia Standards of Learning. There is no contact with live animals in these programs.

All programs are based on availability. Submitting a registration form does not guarantee a particular date you will be contacted by FONZ's education office once your registration form is received. Only one program can be accommodated at a time, so if you are planning to come with more students than the program capacity, you will need to schedule back-to-back programs. The fees are per program, not per school. If you will be arriving on a bus, please review the bus reservation information in the FAQs below. Bus reservations are only available Mon-Weds.

To register for a school program, please complete the 2018-2019 School Program Registration Form and return it to fonz_programs@si.edu.

Title 1 schools may be eligible for a registration fee waiver. Email us at fonz_programs@si.edu to learn about program eligibility. Thank you to GEICO for their generous support of this program!

Please contact the Education Programs Office or call 202-633-3024 with any questions.

The Ecology of Urban Songbirds

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Center's Migratory Bird Center along with Friends of the National Zoo, and the US Forest Service are excited to announce a new program, "The Ecology of Urban Songbirds."

This program is intended to teach students grades 6 through 9 how humans shape wildlife habitat and impact bird populations in Washington, D.C. The program incorporates a 3-hour field trip to the Smithsonian's National Zoo (9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., not including travel time) wherein students will learn core scientific principles while exploring the habitats students experience in their daily lives. All lessons align with the Next Generation Science Standards. The field trip will include: a banding demonstration with wild birds; a scavenger hunt for habitat features that impact wildlife; a model-building exercise; and the development of a conservation action plan to improve bird habitat. For more information or to schedule a field trip, please contact Fonz_Programs@si.edu

The Ecology of Urban Songbirds is a guided zoo walk. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather.
 

Grades: 6 - 8
Number of Students: 30 student maximum with at least 5 chaperones
Program Length: 3 hours
Cost Per Program: Thanks to support of the Smithsonian Institution's Youth Access Grant program, the fee has been waived. (Title I cost: Thanks to support of the Smithsonian Institution's Youth Access Grant program, the fee has been waived.)
Sumatran tiger
Wildlife Trafficking

After habitat loss, wildlife trafficking (illegally moving animals or products made from animals from one place to another) is the greatest threat to numerous species around the world. During this program, students will learn about some of the animals whose populations are jeopardized by wildlife trafficking, how the Smithsonian's National Zoo is working to conserve these animals, and what they, as students, can do to make a difference.

Wildlife Trafficking is a guided zoo walk. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather.

Grades: 6 - 8
Number of Students: 20 student maximum with at least 3 chaperones
Program Length: 75 minutes
Cost Per Program: $180 (Title I cost: $100)
Asian elephant
Animalisms

Have you ever heard the phrase "an elephant never forgets" or "touching a toad will give you warts?" During this program, as students travel throughout the Smithsonian's National Zoo, they will become "mythbusters" as we examine a number of different "animalisms" to discover which are true and which are false. Along the way, students will think like scientists as they make observations, analyze data, and form conclusions, all while having fun, too!

Animalisms is a guided zoo walk. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather!

Grades: 2 - 5
Number of Students: 20 student maximum with at least 4 chaperones
Program Length: 75 minutes
Cost Per Program: $180 (Title I cost: $100)
Aldabra tortoise munching on grass
Junior Zoologist

Step into a day in the life of a zoologist! What kind of work does the staff do to learn about animals in the wild and to care for them here at the Smithsonian's National Zoo? This inquiry-based program will present your students with an animal mystery that will require using the steps of the scientific method to solve! Students will have the opportunity to observe and touch animal biofacts or replicas (which may include items like skulls, bones, feathers, claws, horns, etc.).

Junior Zoologist is a classroom program located in one of the Zoo's classrooms.

Grades: 2 - 5
Number of Students: 35 student maximum with 1 chaperone for every 5 students
Program Length: 60 minutes
Cost Per Program: $180 for up to 20 students (Title I cost: $100 for up to 20 students, $125 for 20-35 students), $250 for 20-35 students (Title I cost: $100 for up to 20 students, $125 for 20-35 students)
Southern two-toed sloth
World Safari

The Smithsonian's National Zoo features animals from around the world. What kinds of habitats can be found on each of the seven continents? What kinds of adaptations allow animals to survive in these various habitats? Why are many of these animals endangered, and what can we do to help?

World Safari is a guided zoo walk. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather!

Grades: K - 5
Number of Students: 20 student maximum with at least 4 chaperones
Program Length: 75 minutes
Cost Per Program: $180 (Title I cost: $100)
Fennec foxes
A Habitat is a Home

Animals can be found in all kinds of habitats: deep in the ocean, high in the mountains, in the dry desert, in marshy wetlands, in humid rainforests…. and many more! Wherever animals live, they must have adaptations that help them survive in the type of habitat they call home. What are some of the habitats we can observe at the Smithsonian's National Zoo? What can an animal’s home at the Zoo tell us about habitats in the wild?

A Habitat is a Home is a guided zoo walk. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather!

Grades: Pre-K - 1
Number of Students: 20 student maximum with at least 4 chaperones
Program Length: 60 minutes
Cost Per Program: $120 (Title I cost: $90)
Cheetah cub
Story Safari

This program is designed for our youngest visitors! Children will hear either a fiction or non-fiction read aloud, learn a few facts, see animal biofacts such as pelts and skulls (if applicable/available), then finish the program with a walk to see the animal featured in the book!

Story Safari is a guided zoo walk. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather!

Grades: Pre-K
Number of Students: 20 student maximum with at least 5 chaperones
Program Length: 45 minutes
Cost Per Program: $60 (Title I cost: $35)

Cancellations and Rescheduling Policies

Reservations and full payment must be made 2 weeks prior to the program(s) date. You may pay by credit card or a check made out to Friends of the National Zoo. 

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations received with more than 2 weeks advance notice from the date of your scheduled program(s) will be refunded in full. Cancellations received with less than 2 weeks advance notice from the date of your scheduled program(s) may be eligible to receive a 50% refund. Cancellations made within 48 hours of the program, or failure to show up to your program(s), will received no refund. If the school is participating on a waiver and cancels within 48 hours of the program, they will be ineligible to apply for a future waiver.

Transfer Policy: All transfer requests must be received more than 48 hours in advanced of your scheduled program(s) and will be based on availability. Transfer requests received with more than 2 weeks advanced notice from the date of your scheduled program(s) will incur a $25 transfer fee. Transfer requests received with less than 2 weeks advanced notice from the date of your scheduled program will incur the $25 transfer fee, plus an additional fee of 25% of the total cost of your program(s).

Inclement Weather Policy: School programs at the Zoo run rain or shine. If the Zoo is closed, or if your school is closed due to inclement weather, we will reschedule your group (based on availability) at no cost. If we are unable to reschedule, you will be issued a full refund.

Please contact the Education Programs Office or call 202-633-3024 with any questions.

FAQs About School Programs

Advance reservation is required for your bus. To make a reservation, please submit this form or call 202-633-4960 or 202-633-4964. School bus reservations can be made Monday through Wednesday and are on a first-come, first-served basis, so please make a reservation as soon as you have booked your field trip! Groups coming on Thursday or Friday can be dropped off and picked up in the bus lot, but buses will not be able to park on Zoo grounds during your program. All buses drop off in the designated bus lot, which is located next to Parking Lot B and the Panda Plaza.

 The Zoo is a ten-minute walk from either the Woodley Park stop or Cleveland Park stop on the Metro's Red Line.

Unfortunately, there are no lockers for lunch storage. 

There are numerous picnic areas throughout the Zoo – the Panda Plaza, the Panda Overlook, the Great Meadow and the Picnic Pavilion (located next to the Mane Restaurant). 

We do offer a group menu that can be ordered ahead of time. For more information or to order group meals, please click here.

For Jr. Zoologist program, chaperones should meet in the Visitor Center lobby, the closest parking lot is Lot A. Parking is a flat fee of $25 per car.

For the World Safari program, chaperones should meet at the Information Booth next to the bus lot (across from the American Bison exhibit and in between Panda Plaza and the restrooms). The closest parking lot is Lot B. Parking is a flat fee of $25 per car. 

Public restrooms are located in Panda Plaza, next to the Zoo Police Station, inside the Visitor Center, at the Elephant Outpost, and inside Amazonia. 

Our programs run rain or shine! We do have a number of indoor exhibits, where we will try to spend the majority of our time, but expect to walk outside in between exhibits, so please dress for the weather!

If the Zoo or your school is closed due to inclement weather, however, we will work with you to reschedule at no cost. 

No, there is never any direct animal contact in our programs. 

Please let us know if you have any special requests. Due to timing restrictions and the layout of the Zoo, we likely will not be able to deviate from the planned program, but feel free to ask and we will accommodate you if at all possible. 

About two weeks before your trip, we will contact you to finalize all details and to provide you with pre-visit information for your students. 

As we often schedule multiple programs per day, we may not be able to extend your program. We will work with you as best as we can within the available time frame to make sure your students have the best possible experience at the Zoo!