Arnold Arboretum


MOSS HILL—The Arnold Arboretum offers seasonal school programs for students in grades 3 to 6. These two-hour programs are designed to encourage the investigation of plant science in the meadows and woodlands of the arboretum. Lessons that begin in the classroom can be explored and enlarged through these outdoor learning adventures.

The arboretum began running school programs around 1984, specifically in response to a request from the Boston Public Schools to assist with science instruction. Over time other school systems began attending.

Volunteers lead the school programs. Training begins in late March, and recruiting for this year has begun. According to Manager of Children’s Education Nancy Sableski, the ideal guide is someone outgoing and flexible who enjoys being with children in outdoor settings and has had some prior experience working with groups of children.

The programs emphasize student inquiry and direct interaction with natural phenomena. Students work in small groups with a volunteer guide to explore and discuss science-oriented questions. Pre- and post-visit materials help teachers plan a challenging learning opportunity.

Children from Boston schools, the arboretum’s home community, are served free of charge. Spring programs are available April through June. Fall programs run from September through November. The programs fill up quickly.

Spring—Flowers Change: Students look closely at the development of a flower as it changes from flower to fruit.

Spring & Fall—Native Trees, Native Peoples:? For many years, native peoples of the Eastern Woodlands lived on the land that is now the Arnold Arboretum. In this field study, students learn to identify the trees that supported a culture.

Fall—Plants in Autumn: Students focus on the fall phenomenon of seed dispersal and the strategies that plants use to distribute their seeds, examining the structure of the seed package for evidence of this strategy.

“Hemlock Hill, A Changing Ecosystem,” has been offered since 2004 to several West Zone fifth grade classes, including the Agassiz, the Manning, the Curley, Young Achievers and the Hernandez. The program was designed in collaboration with several Boston school teachers to enhance the study of ecosystems. Students coming to the Arboretum this year will see how a small non-native insect is devastating the native hemlocks, and they make predictions about the future of Hemlock Hill based on the activities and observations during this guide-led field study.

The arboretum has also begun a new initiative with the Jamaica Plain and South Side (Roslindale) Head Start programs and will be offering a program during the April vacation called “Is It Spring Yet?”

For more information about programs or to volunteer, call 524-1718 x163.

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