Hemlock Hill: an ecosystem study for BPS fifth grade students
Outreach to Boston Public Schools resulted in a collaboration to enhance its fifth grade life science curriculum on ecosystems. Hemlock Hill near the Arboretum’s South Street border was chosen for study because it exposes students to a local forest within the urban environment. Here students can explore the organisms that populate this forest, including diverse plants, animals, and fungi.
During the program students make close observational drawings of the organisms they encounter. When the students return to the classroom, they create a food web representing how each organism obtains the energy it needs to survive.
An Arboretum educator visits the classroom prior to the field trip to talk with the students about what they will see on Hemlock Hill. The Arboretum provides bus transportation to the schools for the program and regularly consults with teachers about the scope and effectiveness of the content. In the 2013-14 school year, 138 Boston fifth graders from eight schools participated in ecosystem studies on Hemlock Hill.