(865) 637-5331

High School Student Research Projects

Are you a high school student interested in science and animals?  Would you like to experience how scientific research is done with animals?  If so, Knoxville Zoo has an exciting opportunity where you can help participate in an animal research study!

Project Overview

Knoxville Zoo student research projects are very intense.  These hands-on projects require a minimum of 36 research hours, where students will observe and record data on one of the zoo's animals using a chart called an ethogram.  This research s usually done over the course of three or four months, and is done on zoo grounds in all kinds of weather. Zoo staff will help guide the students through the project, but they will mostly work independently.  The project culminates with the writing of a scientific research paper and a lunch presentation to zoo staff, both of which are required for successful completion of the project.


All potential student researchers must apply to be a part of the student research program.  A completed application will have the following items.

  1. The Research Application Form Student Research Application.pdf must be completely filled out in the student's own handwriting.
  2. The Student Research Waiver Form Student Research Waiver.pdf must also be completely filled out.
  3. Two letters of recommendation.  These letters must be written by an adult, and may not be written by a relative.
  4. A 250 to 500 word essay on why the student researcher wishes to become a part of the program.

Completed applications may  either be scanned or emailed to Jason Moeller at jmoeller@knoxville-zoo.org or turned into the Ranger Station located at the front entrance to the zoo.  The completed application is due by May 1, 2014 at 5:00 p.m.  No late applications will be accepted.


The On-Site Coordinator of Education, Jason Moeller, will use the completed applications to determine which prospective researchers will be interviewed for the program.  Jason will contact applicants to set up a time and date for the interview using the contact information provided in the completed application.


What happens once I am accepted?

Once accepted, the applicant is ready to begin the research.  Please read the attached document as it details the next steps in the student research process.  Student Researcher After Training.pdf


Projects and Questions?

The projects to be completed by student researchers vary depending on what data is needed by our keepers.  Past projects have studied the behaviors of our bears, lions, tigers, otters, elephants, and other mammals.  


If you are interested in learning about our current projects or have any questions, please contact Jason Moeller at jmoeller@knoxville-zoo.org or by phone at (865) 637-5331 x331.