News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
September 25, 2018
Chicago Zoological Society and Illinois Science Teachers Association Partner to Offer Unique, Hands-On Classes for Science Teachers
     Brookfield, Ill. – In today’s world, there is increasing demand for those entering the workforce to be highly trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, many Illinois students are failing to meet science education benchmarks. Through a partnership with the Illinois Science Teachers Association (ISTA), the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is working to bridge that gap by providing pre-kindergarten to 12th grade science teachers with the tools, skills, and resources they need to confidently teach science.
Spurred by international demands for science literacy, along with an enhanced appreciation for how children learn it best, a brand-new set of standards, or Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed in 2014. NGSS require many educators to teach science in a completely different way than they had been previously, and asks teachers to take on the role of active facilitator—rather than deliver lectures on a specific topic.

“It’s important for students to develop a solid platform of science knowledge and skills such as collaboration, inquiry, and problem solving so they can ask the right questions, and as they get older, make informed decisions about their lives, health, environmental issues, and even business,” said Angela Sullivan, vice president of education and community engagement for the Chicago Zoological Society. “We need to build future generations of scientifically literate students and supporting teachers is the means to accomplishing that goal.”

For decades, as an informal education institution, CZS has employed inquiry-based, child-driven educational models to teach science. Through pioneering immersive learn-through-play exhibits, a multitude of public education offerings, and teacher professional development programming, CZS staff has proven experience in developing and delivering science education that works both for educators and learners. The Society established the Institute of Science Teaching Excellence (ISTE) at Brookfield Zoo to help teachers adjust to the NGSS standards. In conjunction with ISTA, teachers are discovering new and effective ways to teach, and are creating classrooms where children are excited to learn about science.

"Science educators and school leaders continue to struggle with how to effectively implement the Next Generation Science Standards and encourage teachers to make the fundamental shift towards three-dimensional learning,” said Dr. Jason Crean, president of the Illinois Science Teachers Association. “It is our hope that, through our partnership with the Chicago Zoological Society, we can provide a home for educators to return where they can access high-quality, highly focused professional learning that will properly illustrate how to continually improve the science education our students so badly need today.”

Both organizations provide teachers with guidance to teach inquiry-based science and to develop classroom practices directed to higher-level science engagement. Workshops and training sessions prepare teachers with an emphasis on NGSS principles and practices. ISTA largely focuses on story lining and using phenomena to drive instruction. The educator workshops provide an array of training throughout the year, inviting all area pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educators to gain skills and practice teaching in alignment with NGSS. For additional information about the program and to register for classes, visit
#      #      #
About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit
About the Illinois Science Teachers Association
The Illinois Science Teachers Association is a state chapter of the National Science Teachers Association and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization run primarily by volunteers. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors that consists of five executive officers and 14 regional directors (two per region) who are elected by current ISTA members. ISTA provides programs and services for science educators, including awards and professional development workshops. It serves as an advocate for science educator by keeping its members and the general public informed about Illinois issues and trends in science education.


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read about our innovative practices in animal welfare to ensure the ultimate care of our individual animals.


Visit Brookfield Zoo

Create extraordinary connections with animals and nature!

Animal Welfare

You Can Help!

Become our partner in caring for animals and in connecting people with wildlife and nature.