New Web Program Teaches Young People to Help Protect the Planet
The Smithsonian's National Zoo, Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) recently marked the third anniversary of the arrival of giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, to the National Zoo with the launch of Conservation Central (www.fonz.org/conservationcentral). The Conservation Central online education program is designed to teach young people about the temperate-forest habitat—home of the giant panda—and the challenges faced in securing the future of endangered species.
Conservation Central provides flexible learning opportunities for teachers, families, and other groups, accessible via the Web, free of charge. It is comprised of three fun, educational, and interactive Web-based activities for use inside and outside the classroom. The middle school curriculum is aligned with national science and social studies teaching standards, and has been designed for teachers to use with minimal preparation or background knowledge. The National Zoo is a leader in scientific research to conserve endangered species, and this research has been incorporated into Conservation Central's Web-based activities and curriculum, making it unique among conservation education programs.
"The National Zoo is committed to conservation education," said Dr. Lucy Spelman, director of the National Zoo. "As the nation's zoo, we have a unique obligation to ensure that today's young people become effective caretakers of our planet. Conservation Central provides students and families with opportunities to become better informed, get involved, and make a difference in their own communities, as well as affect the future of critical animal habitats around the world."
The Conservation Central online education program was developed out of a need for greater awareness and education of children about conservation issues. According to a recent poll by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), nearly 50 percent of young people ages 13 to 17 don't think enough is being done to protect wildlife and wild places. Founded in 1889, the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park exhibits living animal and plant collections that celebrate, study, and protect the diversity of animals and their habitats and is a leading conservation research center, with scientists working at the Zoo as well as the Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, VA. Currently, the Zoo's collection features about 2,600 animals representing 435 species.#
To learn more about the National Zoo and FONZ, please visit www.nationalzoo.si.edu.