School doesn’t start for another few weeks, but Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s gleaming new Education Center is open and already brimming with excitement and learning opportunities.
“We’ve had some of the summer camps in the Education Center,” says Elizabeth Mulkerrin, the zoo’s director of education. “The kids are excited because they are the first ones to use it, and it’s nice to have them here to see how the building works and flows, and tweak whatever we need to before school starts.”
The students aren’t the only ones excited about the new building. Mulkerrin says she’s already heard from school administrators and principals all over town that the thoughtful design truly hits the mark when it comes to current and forecasted trends in education, including more collaborative spaces for group work and problem-solving.
“There’s an entire wall, floor-to-ceiling, that’s both a magnetic board and a white board, which students can use markers on to collaborate. It’s been kind of surprising how excited people were about that,” says Mulkerrin.
The facility has already attracted attention outside of Nebraska, with groups from other states contacting Mulkerrin to see if they can visit. There will also be an open house on August 10 for local school districts to come and tour the building.
“We’re open to the public, so those who want to sign up for classes and camps can see the building while they’re here,” Mulkerrin says, explaining that guests can be buzzed in through a secure door to sign their children up for classes and camps. “It’s going to be a busy building when school gets started next month!”