Since 2003, the Arboretum has made a concerted effort to reinvigorate outreach efforts with Boston Public Schools. This project began by providing bus transportation to the Arboretum for students from several Boston schools for field studies experiences.
In 2009, responding to the late Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s call for neighboring universities to assist the educational needs of local schools, the Arboretum developed a program to enhance science instruction in both classrooms and on Arboretum field trips. From 2009-2011, the Arboretum collaborated with teachers at the Louis Agassiz School in Jamaica Plain to provide life science study in all second grade classrooms. In 2010-2011, Arboretum educators also worked in the first grade classrooms to enhance their life science study of organisms. The content and learning activities for the program were based on the FOSS (Full Option Science System) New Plants unit and the STC (Science and Technology Concepts) Organisms unit, which are part of Boston Public Schools’ general science curriculum for these grades.
Funded by the Henry Meyer Boston School Initiative, the program enabled Arboretum educators to guide second grade students in hands-on experiences with growing plants; first grade students populated and observed organisms in woodland terraria and freshwater aquaria. The program was also designed to teach students how to think and work like scientists, documenting their ongoing investigations in research notebooks. In addition to studying a variety of organisms and nurturing seedlings on their own, students visited the Arnold Arboretum to participate in field study programs that reinforced the New Plants and Organisms content.
When the Agassiz School closed in June 2011, the Arboretum formed a new partnership to continue the program with the Boston Teachers Union School, also located in Jamaica Plain.