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Design an Exhibit

If you were designing a herp exhibit in a zoo or other facility, what would you want your audience to get out of it – and how would you facilitate their learning? By thinking about questions such as these, your students can review what they know about herps and people's relationships with these animals.


  • Discuss ways to create an educational herp exhibit.
  • Describe several interesting facts about herps.


  • Pictures of herps.
  • Art supplies.
  • Reference books (optional).


  • Social studies, science, art


1. Assign the students into groups of four. Tell them to imagine that they're exhibit designers at a zoo. Then explain that each group's task is to design a new exhibit at the reptile and amphibian house. As with any zoo exhibit, one purpose of this new exhibit is to display herps and to present facts about the animals and how they live. But it must also help educate people who have misconceptions about herps, such as the idea that toads give people warts or that all snakes are dangerous to people.
The new exhibit must also present information in a way that gets people involved. In other words, the exhibit must have things for people to do – flaps to lift, puzzles to figure out, buttons to push, and any number of other interactive elements.
2. Tell the students that they must first identify several concepts that they would like to get across in their exhibits. Ideas can include thermoregulation (since herps are "cold-blooded" they must rely on external factors such as the sun to keep their temperatures within a comfortable range), how herps attract a mate, how they're affected by pollution, and so on.
3. Have the students choose several herps to include in their exhibits. (The actual exhibits can have pictures of these herps.) They may want to choose herps that exemplify the concepts their exhibits cover, but they're not required to do so.
4. Give the groups time to gather their information and put together their exhibits. (Explain that it's up to them to decide how to divide the work.) You may want to have the students set up the exhibits in an area where the whole school can enjoy them.
5. Have the students give interpretive "tours" of their exhibits.
Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies