Pittsburgh Zoo 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.

Teen Programs


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.

Eligible Students
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. KidScience is currently accepting applications for the 2018-2019 school year. Applicants will be interviewed in Summer 2018, and classes will begin in early October.

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.

Apply Today!
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
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.

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.

Printable Forms
Scholarship Application
KidScience Application
Reference Form (Print two, one for each reference.)

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

Zoo U.

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. Fall and Spring semester classes run two Saturdays per month for a total of six sessions. Summer classes run Monday-Friday for one week in August.  A limited number of need-based scholarships are available for those who qualify.  Zoo U. classes change each semester, so there is sure to be a course that interests you. Recent class topics include Marine Biology, Primatology, Introduction to Animal Behavior, Career Exploration, and more. Check back regularly to learn about new Zoo U. opportunities!

Fall 2018:

Animals of Asia

"Animals of Asia" will explore the exciting and unique animals of the world's largest continent. In this course, students will learn about the Zoo's resident Asian species through tours and meet & greet opportunities. We will also spotlight conservation projects supported by the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in several Asian countries. Throughout the course, our voyage will take us from mountains to oceans, and everywhere in between. Topics will include an examination of the ways in which native cultures impact conservation and how conservations efforts in Pittsburgh can positively impact endangered species half a world away.

Dates: Six Saturday class sessions: September 15 & 29, October 13 & 27, November 10, and December 1.
Times: 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Cost: $170 for Zoo Members, $195 for non-members
Location: Education Complex (Classroom 4)
Online Registration:
9 a.m Session
1 p.m. Session

Wild Jobs: Career Exploration

Students will examine several different exciting and popular animal-related careers, with an emphasis on those related to animal care, research, and science. In addition to career information, we will look at college programs and schools designed to prepare you for a future working in an environmental, animal-related, or scientific field. Throughout the course, we will meet with people who are currently working in these areas, and you will learn what it takes to break into these highly competitive fields. Topics may include veterinary sciences, marine biology, and animal keeping.

Dates: Six Saturday class sessions: September 15 & 29, October 13 & 27, November 10, and December 1
Times: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Cost: $170 for Zoo Members; $195 for non-members
Location: Various classrooms throughout the Zoo (details to follow)
Online Registration:
11 a.m. Session

Please contact Mandy Revak for more information.

Independent Study

Whether 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. 
Cost is free to those enrolled in other Zoo U. courses or $200 per semester for non-Zoo U. students. Please contact Mandy Revak directly to enroll in Independent Study.

Contact Us

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

Keeper Interactions

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium 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
Students in grades 9-12 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 - 4:00 p.m. October through April, excluding January. Register online for as many sessions as you'd like. Cost is $14 per session and includes admission and tours.

Dates and areas for the 2018-19 school year:

Tuesday, December 4 - Animal Care Center (vet hospital)/Education Animal Care
Tuesday, February 5 - Forest Passage/African Savanna
Tuesday, March 5 - Kids Kingdom/Reptiles
Tuesday, April 2 - PPG Aquarium & Water's Edge

Click here to register.
Registration defaults to the first date. Click on Other Dates and scroll through the calendar to choose the month you'd like.
Requests for individual job shadow experiences cannot be accommodated.

Pizza with the Keepers
Students in grades 9-12 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.  Cost is $24 and includes admission, lunch and tours.  Tour areas are different for each session, so if you attended previously, please consider joining us again.  Both sessions run from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Click here to register.

Contact Us
For questions about these programs, email us at learn@pittsburghzoo.orgRequests for individual job shadow experiences cannot be accommodated.

Zoo Teens

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.  Zoo Teens will choose one day a week that's convenient for them.  This is an 8 week program, and Zoo Teens are expected to commit to at least 6 weeks.  Duties include small animal care and handling, staffing touch tables, assisting with Zoo Camp, and interacting with the public throughout the Zoo, but mainly in Kids Kingdom. 

New for 2019!  Important Registration Information - Please read this entirely!

Registration for the 2019 Summer Zoo Teen program will be by form submission only from this webpage on January 2.  No phone calls will be taken, as in past years. Zoo Teens who participated in the 2018 program should not complete this form; you should follow the instructions in the letter you will receive by mail in February or March.

Only teens who meet the following criteria should complete the online form:
  • You will be between the ages of 14-17 as of June 16, 2019.
  • You did not participate in this program in 2018.
  • You can commit to one day a week for at least 6 of the 8 weeks the program runs.
  • You will be available for an interview on March 9, 2019.
Please check back on January 2 to complete the 2019 Summer Zoo Teen Registration Form. 

Contact Us
Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@pittsburghzoo.org with any questions prior to registering. Do not use this email for Zoo Teen registration!