To Save a Species: Species Survival Plan Breeding Program
To Save a Species was honored with the top Education Award at the 2003 AZA conference.
The "To Save a Species" series of software was developed for the Chicago Zoological Society (Brookfield Zoo) to teach applied biology by enabling students to take on the roles of various zoo scientists. This module, "Species Survival Plan Breeding Program," is intended for middle school and high school students to learn genetics, population biology, population management, and demography by working with real data used by zoos to manage their populations.
It consists of a suite of three modules that allow students to
- Analyze a database to explore the demographics of a population of animals
- Make mathematical predictions about how rates of change will affect the population, and
- Through the use of a simulation, take on the role of a population manager in establishing a breeding program with the goal of maintaining the genetic health of a population.
The software is packaged together with full curriculum materials and is available for teachers to use with their classrooms.
In developing the simulation for this software, Inquirium worked closely with zoo scientists to create a task model that reflected the practices that population managers went through as they established breeding plans. We built a student-friendly database that enables students to focus on the challenge of working with the content rather than struggling with complex software.
We are currently working with four other zoos to expand the software to include more species. We expect another 20 zoos to participate when the software is completed. Scientists at the Chicago Zoological Society are also considering using the software to train population managers as well as incorporating aspects of our design into their professional software.