To help fulfill its educational mission, the Arnold Arboretum offers nature programs with a focus on plant science to elementary and preschool children and their teachers. It also conducts an annual horticultural practicum for students from Norfolk County Agricultural High School.
School Programs began at the Arboretum in 1984 in response to a request to local museums from Boston Public Schools for help with science instruction. This need continues today, illustrated by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s “Step-Up” program, which challenged Boston’s largest institutions of higher learning to assist troubled schools.
Through its unique relationship with the City of Boston, the Arboretum has been increasingly committed to improving local science education. The programs emphasize depth over breadth, and consequently field study programs are offered to approximately 2,000 students annually. In a small group setting that emphasizes inquiry and hands-on learning, students receive increased attention with a well-trained volunteer as their guide through the landscape.
For more information, call 617.384.5239 or send a query by email.
Elementary School Programming:
Each fall and spring, upper elementary school classes visit the Arboretum to learn about seasonal phenomena related to woody plants. We offer three programs: Plants in Autumn (seed dispersal), Flowers Change (the story of reproduction in flowering plants), and Native Trees/Native Peoples (a comparison of evergreen and deciduous trees used by Native Americans to meet basic survival needs).
Created to address fifth grade science standards in the Boston Public Schools, this field study offers students an opportunity to explore a hemlock ecosystem, classify the organisms they encounter, and determine how each organism gets the energy it needs to survive.
Training, programs, and bus transportation have been provided to nearby Boston Head Start centers to introduce the Arboretum as a local resource for learning about the natural world for children from low-income families, their parents, and their teachers.
In cooperation with Harvard University, the Arnold Arboretum has focused resources on improving science education at neighboring Boston Teachers Union School.
High School Horticultural Practicum:
In 2008, the Arnold Arboretum and the Norfolk County Agricultural High School (NCAHS) initiated a partnership to offer students a practicum in the care of plant collections and public garden landscapes. Initially a two week experience, the program has expanded to include four weeks on the grounds of the Arboretum with an interim week of biotechnology studies at Massachusetts Bay Community College.