West Tennessee STEM Hub

Memphis Zoo Herpetarium Project

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West TN Schools Accepted the STEM Challenge!

The West Tennessee STEM Hub sponsored the first annual STEM Challenge Summit on May 2, 2014 at the Memphis Zoo. Teams of students from five high schools and one middle school presented their plans for redesigning or renovating the zoo’s aging herpetarium. Two schools presented scale models of their designs.

East High School won in the first division; Southwind High School won the second division. Dresden Middle School won the middle school section.

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This project encouraged students to approach the situation from all aspects of STEM. The student teams had to consider the types of animals to be housed and maintained in their design including the variety of required environments and climates. They had to explore technology options for providing a safe and naturalistic habitat. In addition, the teams developed the actual structure including calculating the necessary space requirements for each animal. The STEM Hub Master Teachers created lesson plans and activities to help teachers prepare their students to participate in the challenge.

As students completed this challenge, they explored several aspects of STEM by responding to the following questions:


  • What types of animals (species) will be housed/maintained in your design?
  • What environment(s) will need to be created/maintained for their well-being?
  • How will you care for the respective species (feeding, cleaning, monitoring of health)?


  • What steps will you take to maintain the proper environment/climate for the respective species in the Herpetarium?
  • Will that environment change (cool at night, dry and hot during the day)?
  • How would you use technology to provide a safe and naturalistic habitat?


  • What will your new Herpetarium look like? (2-dimensional draft/plan )
  • On what premise was your new design based? What issues are addressed? What problems does the new design solve?
  • Challenge Teams competing in the highest level of competition (Tier 1) will also prepare a 3-dimensional model of the new Herpetarium according to competition specifications.


  • How will you calculate and determine the best use of area on the existing footprint of the Herpetarium to redesign your new model

Teachers...download these lesson plans 

The STEM Hub Master Teachers created lesson plans and activities to help teachers prepare their students to participate in the challenge. 

New users must register to access the lessons and activities developed as part of the Challenge Summit.