Moreno students go on zoo field trip…virtually

The quarantine didn’t stop Moreno Elementary students from going on a field trip to the zoo – at least virtually.

Librarian Elizabeth Zelenak created the online zoo to showcase wildlife animals and students’ pets in a virtual environment giving students a memorable educational experience while staying safe at home.

“We can’t go anywhere together, so we’re going to make the best of it and make a unique opportunity for a virtual fieldtrip,” Zelenak said. “It’s something they will look back on and say ‘I remember when we did that.’ And when they get to experience live field trips, they will appreciate them from a wiser perspective.”

You can view the zoo here.

The zoo mixes information and videos about different animals including dolphins and bugs and recommends topics for reading through MyOn. Students sent in pics of their own dogs, cats, birds, turtles, hamsters and other pets that a sprinkled throughout the zoo for a more personalized feel. She will be adding more to the zoo as students continue sending in their photos.

“It has a local zoo feel but also the global feeling,” she said. “This was everyone coming together and contributing to this unique project. It’s fun for the kids to see when their pets appear in the zoo.”

The virtual fieldtrip starts with a message from Moreno principal and zoo keeper Christina Chapa, who shows off her lifeguard dog in the video. She reminds students to stay healthy this summer by washing their hands and eating healthy.

Chapa also challenges them to read more and research the animals in the zoo.

“Yesterday was only the first day of the virtual field trip, but I’ve already heard so much chatter about how excited the kids are that their own pets are the animals featured in the zoo,” Chapa said.

“Especially now when everyone is stuck at home, they are loving the personal connections they can make with their friends and teachers as they explore the different habitats in our virtual park.”

Chapa especially likes how Zelenak incorporates informal text throughout to encourage reading and learning: “She truly brought the vision of ‘learning together even while apart’ to life.”


Story by Reneé De Santos – EPISD