From barnyard goats to exotic birds, kids can explore and learn in Nature’s Neighborhood at the Toledo Zoo.
Three BGSU faculty members helped make it an engaging experience for children, and now have helped Nature’s Neighborhood gain national recognition. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recently presented Nature’s Neighborhood Top Honors in exhibit design. The 2011 AZA Exhibit Award recognizes excellence in the area of live animal display and exhibit design by an AZA-accredited institution or related facility member.
“The AZA Exhibit Award recognizes the Toledo Zoo as a real leader in educating and inspiring children,” said AZA president and CEO Jim Maddy. “Nature’s Neighborhood, with its innovative approach to exhibit design, animal care and conservation education, demonstrates how the Toledo Zoo, and all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, are more important than ever to children, families and their communities.”
Drs. Jodi Haney, who has a joint appointment to the School of Teaching and Learning and the environment and sustainability department; Rick Worch, School of Teaching and Learning, and Amy Scheuermann, formerly with the School of Intervention Services, worked with the Toledo Zoo education team on the design and development of Nature’s Neighborhood beginning in 2007.
“This was an extension of what COSMOS as well as many of our earlier science education initiatives advocate: experiential learning,” Haney said.
She and Worch recently conducted an extensive internal evaluation of Nature’s Neighborhood play spaces. One assessment technique employed behavior mapping, a process utilizing GIS software to construct maps of the play spaces in order to examine where pertinent behavioral observations data (such as type of science learning, type of play, and level of physical activity) took place in those spaces.
On learning of the award, Mitch Magdich, Toledo Zoo education curator, said he thought that “the summative evaluation piece had a big impact. What made our application so outstanding was the science and analysis that went with the quantitative part, particularly behavior mapping.”
“The Toledo Zoo is proud to accept the 2011 Exhibit Award for Nature’s Neighborhood and looks forward to inspiring young minds for generations to come,” said Toledo Zoo CEO and Executive Director Dr. Anne Baker.