Animal Adventures with Tampa STEM

Tampa in southwestern Florida is home to zoos and science museums that welcome student STEM groups.

From marine biology to renewable energy to aviation, Tampa covers everything STEM. In a state where more than 355,000 people work in the manufacturing field, it is very important for students to be educated and excited about STEM. Including the world’s largest university specializing in aviation and beautiful state parks and zoos, your students will be overwhelmed with joy. Tampa is an outstanding location for marine biology; many universities have labs near the ocean for easy accessibility.

Museums and Zoos

Kinetic Art,” “Vital Signs” and “Robot Engineers” are just a few of many STEM activities that the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, Florida offers for middle school and high school student field trips. Students master team building skills while building a Rube-Goldberg style machine in “Kinetic Art”. They learn how to measure blood pressure and explore the respiratory and circulatory physiology in Vital Signs. In “Robot Engineers,” students design a Mars rover and explore the field of robotics. While on the visit, students can their fears at the “Sky Trail Ropes Course,” engage in virtual reality and discover the stars at the Planetarium. If you want to save some money, purchase the Tampa Bay CityPASS. This pass saves 50 percent or more off admission to five attractions in Tampa Bay including Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and, of course, MOSI.

MOSI, Credit Visit Tampa Bay

Dive into the wonders of the water at the Florida Aquarium. Future biologists will love the backstage pass to penguins. Students will watch the penguins waddle, swim and may even be able to touch them. An experienced penguin biologist will be there to take any questions about these birds. Students will learn about sea turtles, sea horses and creatures with no backbone in seven different exhibits. The group can take a break from walking and take a seat in the 4-D movie theater to feel the multisensory effects of bubbles, snow, scent, FX lighting and more.

Choose your adventure with up-close encounters of wildlife at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Visit the lands of Asia, African, Florida, wallaroo and primates. Students can get a special backstage tour of the elephants. They will learn how the zoo’s Animal Care Team uses learned behaviors to ensure the African Elephants are maintaining optimal health and welfare. ZooTampa provides educational programs including Zoo Crew where students can dive deep into the profession of animal care and learn how researchers, veterinarians and animal care staff spend their days caring for over 1,300 animals.

Universities and Academia

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s largest and most respected university specializing in aviation and aerospace. Not only does this university have a campus in Daytona Beach, but also Prescott, Arizona, and over 130 worldwide campuses through online programming. Embry-Riddle offers many areas of study: applied science, aviation, business, computers and technology, engineering, safety security, and intelligence and space. Research is a huge component for students who attend Embry-Riddle. Students can work on their own or with faculty. Some may work be with industry and government partners to develop new biofuels, green vehicles and aircraft and renewable energy sources. On a tour, students are able to speak with professors and sit in on a class.

Known for being Florida’s STEM University and the headquarters of theFlorida Academy of Sciences, the small school of Florida Institute of Technology is a research driven, high-tech and hands-on university. Take your kids on a tour around campus and your students will be able to explore the MAC (Math Advancement Center) Lab and botanical garden. They will get a tour and demonstration of the digital scholarship lab and a tour and viewing of the campuses telescopes or overview of Aerospace Engineering/Physics and Space Sciences.

Industry and Technology

The Florida Advanced Technological Center (FLATE) is a great organization for manufacturing and advanced technical education. They built a web portal for middle and high school students where they can learn about profitable opportunities when they consider manufacturing as a career choice. Tours for grades seven through 12 are designed to create students’ interest in today’s modern manufacturing careers. On the tour, they will work in assembly lines and learn how to manufacture in their community. Every summer, FLATE hosts robotics and engineering camps at Hillsborough Community College for middle and high schoolers. All five days include hands-on exploration of STEM-related topics in robotics, 3D modeling and printing and in-depth studies of recent technology used in high-tech manufacturing environments.

Nature/Outdoor Activities

Busch Gardens offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for students in middle school and high school. For any future veterinarians, closely observe and even take part in animal care experience. Students will be able to watch X-rays, surgeries and treatments. Also, interact with one of the world’s largest tortoises. Students can prepare enrichment items and learn how to help their wild relatives. Or they can bring along an accelerometer and measure the acceleration of the roller coasters around the park after having a few joy rides of their own.

Hillsborough River State Park, located upriver from downtown Tampa, is perfect for hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking. Seven miles of hiking trails run through this 3,000-acre park. A day trip is the perfect amount of time, but camping overnight would teach survival skills. Water activities include fishing, swimming and surfing, but beware, students may spot native Florida wildlife from Great Blie Herons to alligators. This trip is great for navigation skills, marine ecology and environmental stewardship.