Teen Programs

Students in middle school and high school can become a part of the Zoo’s research team in the KidScience program, take in-depth classes through Zoo U., learn what it means to be a zookeeper through Keeper Interactions, or volunteer with the Zoo through the summer Zoo Teens program. Explore the tabs below to learn more about each exciting program. 

  • KidScience - Grades 6-8
    • IMG_6389 1KidScience is now accepting applications for the 2017-2018 school year. Applicants will be interviewed in Summer 2017, and classes will begin in early October.

      Read about KidScience in a PBS NOVA Science Education Article

      KidScience is a year-long program designed to introduce middle school students to methods and principles related to conservation biology. KidScience students become part of the Zoo's research team, and get hands-on experience doing real animal behavior research. Through this program, students gain an understanding of research methods and skills, cooperation, teamwork, environmental stewardship, and are exposed to animal- and science-related careers. Activities include classroom lessons, data collection and analysis, behind-the-scenes tours, research projects, and animal encounters. KidScience activities also meet many of the Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards as well as the National Science Education Standards.

      Students who will be in grades 6, 7, or 8 in October may apply. As KidScience is designed to be a two-year program, most students return the following year.

      Classes are held every other Saturday throughout the school year (October through May), followed by a three week summer session. Classes are four hours long and can be attended in a morning session from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. or an afternoon session from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

      Annual tuition is $555 for Members and $695 for non-members. A limited number of scholarships are available to those who qualify. Click here to download a scholarship application.

      To apply, please download a KidScience application and a reference form. The application will need to be accompanied by a one-page essay (further instructions are available on the form). Two references are needed, so the reference form will needed to be printed and completed twice. Once completed, please mail these forms to:

      Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium IMG_4581 1
      Attn: KidScience Coordinator
      One Wild Place
      Pittsburgh, PA 15206

      Applicants will be contacted in the summer, once all application materials are received, to set up a personal interview with the KidScience Coordinator. Sorry, online registration is not available for the KidScience program.

      For more information, please contact teens@pittsburghzoo.org or 412-365-2567.

      KidScience students also receive two Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium KidScience T-shirts, discounts at all Zoo restaurants and gift shops, 10 free Zoo passes for family and friends, and free admission during regular Zoo hours.

  • Zoo U. - Grades 9-12
    • The Zoo U. program offers semester-based courses that allow high school students to explore new areas of science and conservation in a fun and exciting way. Students take an in-depth look at current research and topics in zoology, biology, ecology, and more. Classes are designed to be interactive and challenging for students in grades 9 to 12. Summer classes run Monday-Friday. Fall and Spring classes run two Saturdays per month for six sessions. A limited number of scholarships are available for those who qualify.

      Fall 2017 Courses will be announced in late summer, and they will run on Saturdays throughout the fall.

      For more information, please email teens@pittsburghzoo.org or call 412-365-2567.

      Summer 2017:

      otterRescue, Rehab, Release
      The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium partners with many organizations, both locally and worldwide, in the recovery, rehabilitation, and release of injured animals.  The course will take students on an inspiring journey as they explore the rehabilitative process first-hand through meetings with wildlife professionals and the injured animals they are determined to save.  One session of the course will take place at the Humane Animal Rescue Wildlife Center in Verona, where students will witness wildlife rehabilitation on a local level (Thursday, August 3rd, students will be responsible for their own transportation).

      Days and Time: Monday, July 31st through Friday, August 4th
                             10 am – 12 pm
      Location:          Classroom in the Former Research/Graphics Building, next to the PPG Aquarium
      Cost:               $140 members, $165 non-members


      Ocelot Magic 1Jungle Odyssey
      Tropical rainforests are some of the most diverse and fascinating ecosystems in the world. Students will investigate tropical rainforest ecology, including threats and conservation efforts, through tours, lessons, and class activities. Students will meet amazing rainforest creatures, including some of the newest members of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium family, in the Jungle Odyssey habitat. One session of the course will take place at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden (Wednesday, August 2nd, students responsible for their own transportation).

      Days and Time: Monday, July 31st through Friday, August 4th
                             1 pm – 3 pm
      Location:          Classroom in the Former Research/Graphics Building, next to the PPG Aquarium
      Cost:               $140 members, $165 non-members


      Independent Study
      IMG_1097Whether you have a great idea for a research project or you want to conduct a study at the Zoo for a school or science fair project, the Independent Study option may be for you. Through Independent Study, you will work independently, but guidance from staff and keepers will help you complete the project.
      Requirements: Any student undertaking independent study must check in with staff at least twice a month and make adequate progress prior to each meeting. A final paper/project must be produced by a reasonable deadline.
      Day & Time: To be determined on an as-needed basis
      Cost: Free to those enrolled in other Zoo U. Courses

      Additional Information
      Current or past Zoo U. students who are in 11th or 12th grade are also eligible to compete for the annual Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Conservation Leadership Award, a $500 college scholarship for an outstanding community conservation project. Please contact teens@pittsburghzoo.org for more information.

      Zoo U. classes change each semester, so there is sure to be a course that interests you. Recent classes topics include Marine Biology, Primatology, Introduction to Animal Behavior, Career Exploration, and more. Check back regularly to learn about new Zoo U. opportunities.

  • Keeper Interactions - Grades 9-12
    • The Zoo offers two opportunities for high school students to connect with keepers and aquarists and learn more about these exciting career fields: Keeper Conversations and Pizza with the Keepers.
      Please note that due to the large number of requests and keeper availability, we are not able to schedule individual job shadowing experiences.  Parents are not permitted to attend either program with their children, but are welcome to tour the zoo on their own during the program.  Parents should expect to pay the gate rate or use their membership card for admission. 

      Keeper Conversations
      $13 per session
      Students in grades 9-12 (no younger participants, please) who would like to shadow a zookeeper will tour animal areas as they chat with keepers and aquarists about the work they love. Space is limited for this exclusive opportunity. Keeper Conversations are held the first Tuesday of the month from 2:00-4:00pm, October through April, except January. Register online for one, or all six.

      April 4, 2017 - PPG Aquarium & Water's Edge
      All sessions are 2 hours long, begin promptly at 2:00pm and meet in the Education Complex lobby. 

      Keeper Conversations Registration

      Pizza with the Keepers
      Pizza 1$22 per person
      High school students (grades 9-12, no younger participants please) are invited to join keepers, aquarists, and veterinary staff for an informal lunch to discuss animal-related career goals. Staff from Kids Kingdom, reptile and mammal departments, PPG Aquarium, and veterinary/animal care may be in attendance. Behind the scenes tours will take place after lunch.  Space is limited for this popular program. 

      Sunday, October 15, 2017

      Please check back soon for registration information.

      Please email reservations@pittsburghzoo.org if you have any questions about either program. Please note that due to the large number of requests and keeper availability, we are not able to schedule individual job shadowing experiences. 
  • Zoo Teens - Ages 14-17 Summer Volunteer Program
    • The Zoo Teens summer volunteer program is available for students ages 14-17. It is a great way to learn more about animals and zoo careers.

      Due to an overwhelming response, the Summer 2017 Zoo Teen program is full.  We are no longer taking registrations for this year.  If you have any questions, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator at 412-365-2524 or volunteer@pittsburghzoo.org.