Engineering Fun for Zoo Animals

Related: KHON2 – Waikīkī students create toys for Honolulu Zoo animals

Animals at the Honolulu Zoo now have nine exciting new toys, nests, feeders and enrichment items as a result of a collaborative effort among Waikīkī Elementary School, the Honolulu Zoological Society and Punahou. 

Fifth grade students from Waikīkī Elementary School gained insight into the needs of animals from zoo staff, then created original designs for enrichment objects that were specially tailored for different species.

They then made a series of visits Punahou, where seniors in the Design Technology and Engineering program provided guidance on designing and crafting the objects in the D. Kenneth Richardson ’48 Learning Lab. Students from both schools worked together to build the items at Punahou, and finishing touches were added at Waikīkī Elementary.

In early May, the enrichment objects were unveiled in various animal habitats within the zoo. Items included an interactive popcorn barrel designed for Asian elephants, a nest box for golden lion tamarins, food puzzles for orangutans, a leaf-shaped feeder for sloths and more. The public, along with the students involved, had the opportunity to witness the animals interacting with their new accessories.

This partnership brought students together from different grade levels, uniting a private and a public school, as well as the zoo society, all with the shared goal of improving the lives of animals. Punahou plans to continue partnerships like these across different academic areas as part of the new Ke Kilohana capstone program for seniors.

“My favorite part of this project was seeing how Punahou students worked to bring the Waikīkī students’ ideas to life,” said Taryn Loveman, Design Technology and Engineering director. “They didn’t want to disappoint, and it was an authentic challenge for them to help manage timelines and technical challenges, all while keeping the Waikīkī students directly involved.”

Waikīkī Elementary School fifth graders showcase enrichment objects designed and built for specific zoo animals.
Photos courtesy of Jason Marvel, Waikīkī Elementary School.

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