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1927 Map of the Arboretum

About Arboretum Young Scientists

Nancy Sableski, Manager of Children's Education; Brittany Bushman, BPS science teacher; Shailah Stewart, consultant; Kareen Wilkerson, BPS science instructional coach; Catherine Donaher, consultant; Stephen Lin, outdoor science educator
Six members of Arboretum Young Scientist program at entrance to Arboretum.

The anti-racist work that the team plans, and the careful efforts they will make to ensure the success of students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), give me hope that many of those students participating in AYS might indeed become the scientists and environmentalists of tomorrow.

Marylynn Mack, President, American Public Gardens Association

Since 1984, the Arnold Arboretum has provided exceptional life science experience yearly to 2,000 elementary school students. We now exclusively serve Boston Public School (BPS) students, providing programming that addresses science study in the classroom. This summer we will launch Arboretum Young Scientists (AYS), which builds on our successes with younger students and offers specialized immersive programming for middle school students, who are underserved nationally in botanical garden programming. By expanding our reach, we hope to cultivate the next generation of scientists, particularly from low-income communities of color.

Arboretum Young Scientists is a tailored program of vibrant, hands-on learning which will start with BPS rising 8th grade students. This summer adventure will be grounded in hands-on outdoor field studies across the Arboretum landscape. We will also take advantage of our talented research scientists and skilled horticultural staff to share the range of scientific and green industry careers. Recognizing that 86% of BPS students are persons of color, our program is explicitly designed to be anti-racist and culturally competent. Like our programs for younger students, AYS will also be free of charge.

We are partnering with selected BPS middle schools to recruit 7th grade students for the pilot four-week immersive summer program focusing on ecosystems―the heart of life science curriculum for this grade.

AYS will be led by instructors with a passion for science and youth education. As each successive grade, with its cohort of older students, comes to AYS, curricula will offer deepened science study, experiences, and training. Ongoing evaluation of the program will spur continual improvement.

AYS students will work side by side with scientists, horticulturists, arborists, and others to open their horizons to those careers and others. BIPOC life science professionals will serve as role models sharing their career journeys. We plan to stay close to our alumni, to study their career journeys and learn more about the impact of AYS on their lives. Ideally, we hope to learn that AYS indeed does increase the BIPOC pipeline into life science-related careers.

Families with rising 8th graders from the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School, Charlestown High Academy, and Mildred Avenue K8 School are invited to apply for the summer session.

AYS needs your help!

Donations made now to benefit AYS will support the launch of the first summer immersive program in July 2022!

We thank the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, the Schrafft Charitable Trust, the Eastern Bank Foundation, the Clinton H. and Wilma T. Shattuck Charitable Trust, and the Devonshire Foundation, along with many families and individuals, for their crucial support in getting this exciting program underway. AYS has great potential to make its mark in Boston and to address a mix of needs that we all care about—including racial justice, enhancing the development and life paths of young people of color, and democratizing the experience of the natural environment. AYS presents a special opportunity for the Arboretum to play a significant role in community education and change in Boston and beyond.

Click below to go to the Arboretum’s Giving Page. Select “Arboretum Young Scientists/Middle School Science Initiative” from the drop-down menu to direct your donation to AYS. Thank you!