Pittsburgh Zoo Teen Programs

Early Closing - Friday, July 26

The Zoo will close early on Friday, July 26 as we prepare for our Summer Safari fundraising event. Gates will close at 2 p.m. and the park will close at 3 p.m.

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 will begin accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year in spring 2019. Applicants will be interviewed in Summer 2019, 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 $705 for Members and $855 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!

Summer 2019:

Animal Behavior Research Methods

Observing and studying animals in a Zoo environment can be a fascinating way to learn about habits and natural behaviors. In Animal Behavior Research Methods, you will be given all the tools necessary to design and conduct animal behavior studies, including learning how to develop good working hypotheses, how to identify your study subjects, how to collect data, and how to analyze and present your results.  Classes will involve discussions, animal observations, and the opportunity to conduct a mini-study within the course. This class is perfect for both former KidScience students who want to review and expand their research skills and students who have never before conducted an animal behavior research project.

Dates: Monday, July 29 through Friday, August 2
Time:10 a.m. – Noon
Location: Water’s Edge Meeting Room (On boardwalk between polar bears and sea otters)
Cost: $140 members, $165 non-members

Online Registration

Animal Enrichment

There is far more to animal care than simply providing food, water, and shelter. Animal Enrichment will take an in-depth look at the purpose, history, and developments in zoo & aquarium enrichment strategies. Students will hear from keepers and other Zoo staff about how enrichment is implemented at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Students will also have the opportunity to create and give enrichment to animals within the course.

Dates: Monday, July 29 through Friday, August 2. (5 class sessions.)
Time: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: Water’s Edge Meeting Room (On boardwalk between polar bears and sea otters)
Cost: $140 members, $165 non-members

Online Registration

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 with frequent guidance from staff and keepers to ensure a successful project outcome.

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.

Remaining dates and areas for the 2018-19 school year:

Tuesday, April 2 - PPG Aquarium & Water's Edge - SOLD OUT!

This program is sold out.  We are not longer taking registrations.

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.  Sessions run from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 13
Registration information will be posted in the summer. 

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. 

Registration for the 2019 Summer Zoo Teen program is now closed.  New Zoo Teens who submitted a form on January 2 will receive a letter in the near future to schedule an interview.  Returning Zoo Teens will also receive a letter detailing their next steps.

Contact Us
Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@pittsburghzoo.org with any questions regarding the Zoo Teen program. Late registrations cannot be accepted.