In its third year at Kyrene School District, Project Zoo Lab is taking elementary school students through a study of how animals adapt to their surroundings.

As an after-school program part of the district’s Enrichment Classes, about 14 students gathered at Kyrene Monte Vista last week, watching a live stream from the Phoenix Zoo.

Part of this year’s zoo lab, called “Animal Innovators,” students around the Valley from more than 10 school districts are learning about a variety of animals at the zoo and how they adapt to survive with an interactive live stream with zoo volunteers.

“It’s been very successful, it brings technology and science to the classroom as well as youth enrichment,” said community education program manager Gavin Martin.

Other after-school enrichment classes offered include chess, choir, gymnastics, intramurals, yoga, dance and Spanish, to name a few.

Students sat on the floor watching the projector in second-grade teacher Donna Brazelton’s class, as Phoenix Zoo volunteers showed them reptiles and other animals. Students viewing the live stream can also send them live questions or comments through the stream.

“It’s unique to the district,” said Martin, with Project Zoo Lab being the only program of its kind at Kyrene.

The program with the Phoenix Zoo and Valley schools started about four years ago, when Paradise Valley Unified School District was contacted for a partnership. After its success, more schools were asked to get involved, including Kyrene.

In addition to the live stream lessons, students will also be making a book of animals and their adaptive skills to keep or donate to the Phoenix Zoo’s new bookstore.

“It’s awesome that it brings the zoo to the classroom and the interest from kids is already there,” Martin added. “Every kid has a favorite animal.”

Project Zoo Lab will be offered for Kyrene students through March 31.

For more information about Project Zoo Lab, visit

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow on Twitter: @_dianamartinez.

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