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School Programs

Available for Grades Pre-K to High School!
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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 a guided "trek" through the Zoo. These engaging, inquiry-based, discussion-oriented lessons are designed to correspond 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 your program date. Once you submit your registration form, you will be contacted by FONZ's education office within five business days to confirm your program.

Only one group can be accommodated at a time. If you have more students than the program capacity, you will need to schedule back-to-back programs. Fees listed below are per group of 20 students, 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 Monday to Wednesday on a first-come, first-served basis.

To register for a school program, please complete the 2019-2020 School Program Registration Form and return it to fonz_programs@si.edu. Submitting a registration form does not guarantee your program date. You will receive a confirmation of your program within five business days.

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

Story Safari: The Great Kapok Tree

Story Safari gets a tropical twist with this program focusing on rainforest animals! Children will listen to a read-aloud of "The Great Kapok Tree," then visit the Zoo's very own rainforest in Amazonia to learn more about this incredible habitat and the animals that call it home. 

*This program is specifically designed to support DCPS Kindergarten classes participating in the ELA Cornerstone on Conservation, so DCPS classes will receive priority booking for dates between February and March 2020.

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

This program is designed for our youngest visitors! Children will listen to a read-aloud of one of our favorite great ape storybooks, and then learn more about apes with a short discussion supported by animal biofacts. The program ends with a walk to see the animal featured in the story.

"Story Safari" is a guided Zoo walk which usually visits the Think Tank and the Great Ape House. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather.

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

Animals can be found in all kinds of habitats: high in the mountains, in the dry desert, in humid rainforests, in scrubby grasslands … 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 in the Small Mammal House 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 which takes place in the Small Mammal House. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather.

Grades: Pre-K - 1
Number of Students: 20 students maximum with at least 4 chaperones
Program Length: 60 minutes
Cost Per Program: $120 (Title I cost: $90)
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 and Conservation Biology Institute is working to conserve these animals and what they, as students, can do to make a difference.

"Wildlife Trafficking" is a guided zoo walk which typically visits the Elephant Community Center, Small Mammal House, Great Ape House and Reptile Discovery Center. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather.

Grades: 5 - 12
Number of Students: 20 students maximum with at least 3 chaperones
Program Length: 75 minutes
Cost Per Program: $180 (Title I cost: $100)
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 types 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 which typically visits the American bison, Elephant Community Center and Small Mammal House. Portions of this program are outside, so please dress for the weather.

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

Step into a day in the life of a zoologist! What kind of work do staff at the Smithsonian's National Zoo do to learn about animals in the wild and care for them here at the Zoo? This inquiry-based program presents students with an animal mystery that requires 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 such as skulls, bones, feathers, claws and horns.

"Junior Zoologist" is a classroom program held in one of the Zoo's classrooms. Teacher and chaperone participation is required.

Grades: 2 - 5
Number of Students: 20 student maximum with 1 chaperone for every 5 students
Program Length: 60 minutes
Cost Per Program: $180 (Title I cost: $100 )

Payment, Cancellation, and Transfer Policy

Payment in full must be received 4 weeks prior to the program(s) date. This payment is non-refundable and may be made over the phone via credit card or a check made out to Friends of the National Zoo.
 

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations received more than 4 weeks prior to the program(s) date will be honored and accrue no fees. If your school has already submitted payment, it will be refunded in full. Cancellations received fewer than 4 weeks prior to the program(s) date will forfeit their payment in full. If you fail to show up to your program(s), you will receive no refund. If the school is participating with a fee waiver and cancels within 48 hours of the program or fails to show, they will be ineligible to apply for a future waiver.

Transfer Policy: All transfer requests must be received at least 2 weeks prior to the program(s) date and will be based on availability.

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). 

There are several food vendors throughout the park where meals and snacks can be purchased. Please note that due to the variety of food vendors on site, we cannot provide information regarding allergies at this time.

The closest parking lot to the bus drop-off is Lot B. For chaperones arriving separately, parking is a flat fee of $25 per car (free for some levels of membership). On busy days our parking lots can fill up very quickly and chaperones may have to walk from one of the further lots, so please encourage chaperones to arrive early. 

Information about your program's starting location will be included in your confirmation email. 

Public restrooms are located in Panda Plaza, inside the Visitor Center, at the Elephant Outpost, next to the Conservation Pavilion, 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. 

Due to timing restrictions and the layout of the Zoo, we are usually unable to deviate from the planned programs.

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. 

If you are running late, please call the Education Office at 202-633-3024.

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!