Shedd Aquarium brings out a special guest for fifth grade students from Telpochcalli Elementary Public School – a penguin! Students hear about Shedd’s Animal Response Team to learn about endangered African penguin rescue efforts and what they can do to help protect their waterways and environment by reducing their use of single-use plastic (photo ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez).

Shedd Aquarium and Dawn Launching Nextgen Animal Responders STEM Program 

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Dawn and Shedd Aquarium launched a new national in-classroom and web accessible STEM curriculum called NextGen Animal Responders, which will allow teachers to offer fifth through eighth grade student’s five Next Generation Science Standards lesson plans. The lessons aim to increase students’ environmental and science literacy through Shedd animal rescue and rehabilitation stories and resources and provide a connection to nature and the environment that students living in an urban setting might not have the opportunity to experience.

​In addition, Chicago Public Schools will be the first in the country to participate in an in-classroom roadshow and contest aimed to connect local teachers and students to the importance of animal care and conservation and show them how the next generation can take a hands-on approach to preserving and protecting animals and the environment. During the roadshow, twenty-five select Chicago-area schools will be visited by guest speakers and experts from the Shedd, who will bring along engaging Dawn Wildlife activities, a contest call-to-action and materials for children to take home to their parents.

​“Shedd has been committed to working with response and rescue organizations globally for over 50 years and the urgency to protect animals and their environments is greater than ever,” said Bridget Coughlin, Shedd Aquarium president and CEO. “Dawn and Shedd both share a similar passion for wildlife conservation as well as a shared mission of educating and inspiring the world about the wellbeing of animals, habitat conservation, and the health of our oceans. This is the first time we are working together to build care and compassion for animals that will extract curiosity and interest, which we hope will ultimately lead to interest in a new career path for some of these students.”

To celebrate the launch of the program, students at Telpochcalli Elementary visited Shedd for a hands-on science experiment and had a special opportunity to meet a member of Shedd’s Animal Response Team to learn more about endangered African penguin rescue efforts and what they can do to help. They also participated in a penguin encounter.

NextGen Animal Responders is part of the larger Dawn Helps Save Wildlife commitment with an aim to connect teachers and students with a singular goal, educating the next generation about the importance of wildlife conservation.

​“Dawn is honored to partner with Shedd on this new, education-based offering for teachers and students,” said Mandy Ciccarella, Dawn communications manager. “Demonstrating how our next generation of animal stewards can take a hands-on approach to help preserve animals and the environment is vital and important to the Dawn brand.”

​As part of the program, all Chicago-area schools are able to enter a contest that will run for 11 weeks, beginning Jan. 17 at Teachers and students will submit video entries to demonstrate their exemplary efforts in the appreciation of wildlife conservancy and answer simple questions about why preserving wildlife is so important. The grand prize class winner will receive a special behind-the-scenes trip to visit Dawn Wildlife partner Shedd Aquarium to learn more about animal care and conservation, including protecting and rehabilitating aquatic animals. For more information about the complete rules and regulations about the contest, as well as downloading the full curriculum, interested teachers can visit