Science Focus Program
|1222 S. 27th Street
Lincoln, Nebraska, United States
|Type||Public magnet high school|
|School board||Lincoln Public Schools|
The Science Focus Program, more commonly referred to as Zoo School, is a part of Lincoln Public Schools and is one of the district's four focus programs. It is located at the Lincoln Children's Zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska, and is defined as "a small community of mature learners participating both in a traditional and non-traditional style of learning. A place where students play an active role in defining their learning environment and education."
The Science Focus Program has 5 teachers:
- Mark Anderson, social sciences.
- Beth Briney, English and communication.
- Sara LeRoy Toren, natural sciences.
- Mark James, chemistry, physics, physical science, and astronomy.
- Matt Johnson, mathematics.
In addition, Amy Windle serves as secretary and Dr. Hunter-Pirtle is the administrator.
Zoo School's open campus is tucked behind the Zoo Cafe and Discovery Building, or "Disco". The two portables house the computer lab, a science room and laboratory, and the English classroom. The Camelot Commons houses the social science, mathematics, and natural science classrooms. There are picnic tables set up around the pond by the portables for lunch. During the winter, students eat inside the portables. The Zoo uses the portables and the Disco for educational purposes during the summer.
REGULAR SCHEDULE—MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, & FRIDAY
10:10-11:35 - BLOCK 1
11:35-1:05 - BLOCK 2
1:05-1:40 - LUNCH
1:40-3:05 - BLOCK 3
PLC DAY - TUESDAY
9:45-11:15 - BLOCK 1
11:15-12:45 - BLOCK 2
12:45-1:20 - LUNCH
1:20-2:45 - BLOCK 3
The Zoo School runs on an A-day, B-day block schedule, with the days alternating throughout the week. Wednesdays are commonly run on an alternative schedule, reserved for additional class times for core classes and applied arts. Wednesdays are typically known as "Focus Days" as each student is given time, resources, and assistance with their mandatory Research Project, a long term science/history affiliated project that is presented at the end of the year. Also on Wednesdays, students learn from guest speakers, go on field trips, or catch up on accelerated classes. Lunch lasts for about forty minutes, between the second and the third of the class blocks, in which students from the sophomore level up may leave campus. Students may purchase food from the Safari Cafe, while the zoo is open. During the winter, students typically bring a sack lunch or leave campus to go to nearby restaurants.
The idea for the Science Focus Program originated in 1995. Teachers met and worked part time planning for the Zoo School, and part time teaching at their high schools. The original teachers were Jim Barstow, social sciences, Deb Sharp, English, De Tonack, math and physics, and Jane Obbink, natural sciences. Since then, Beth Briney came the second year to replace Deb Sharp, and Jane has since moved to Alaska, and was replaced by Sara LeRoy-Toren.
The main idea for the focus program was to give students an alternative to regular high school. The teachers' vision consisted of a place where students could come and feel welcome and comfortable enough to express their individual talents and ideas.
The school opened for the 1997-1998 school year, accepting juniors and seniors. Since then, changes have been made, allowing the Zoo School to accept sophomores and freshmen.
Zoo School's technology consists of a lab of iMacs, which arrived at the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year. There are 3 PowerMac G4s and 1 PowerMac G5, which enable students to create documentaries and video yearbooks using movie software, like Final Cut Express HD. Zoo School works with the Information Technology Program, another focus program, to gain access to state of the art equipment.
Zoo School has made some changes throughout the years, but their goal is maintained: to give students the best education possible, to instill an excitement and a craving for knowledge, to teach and learn together.
The Science Focus Program grows every year and changes as new students arrive. As many of the students are talented and diverse, clubs are started frequently. A few official clubs include the Chess Club, Key Club, Amnesty International, Science Olympiad Club, Roots & Shoots, Science Day Planning Club, and a prospective Robotics Club.
Every Year, the Lincoln Children's Zoo hosts a "Science Day" in which the public, along with elementary schools, walk around the zoo as Science Focus Program Students enrich their knowledge with fun scientific activities. All students work stations and participate.
Many students at the Science Focus Program are very mature and part of other organizations of political, artistic, or scientific nature. The Zoo School is a fantastic way to make connections throughout the city.