Boston Teachers Union School Partnership

School Partnership: The Arnold Arboretum and the Boston Teachers Union School

BTU bubble study

Ana Maria Caballero brings students outside to study air using bubbles.

As both a natural history collection of Harvard University and a public park in the City of Boston, the Arnold Arboretum fulfills part of its educational mission through partnerships with Boston Public Schools (BPS). Field studies programs provide unique learning experiences in the Arboretum landscape for Boston schoolchildren, and are designed to complement BPS life science study for elementary school students. To amplify the impact of these programs and improve academic outcomes for disadvantaged students, the Arboretum also partners with a local school to provide life science instruction and enhance students’ scientific literacy through classroom engagement.

BTU Organisms field study pond

First graders look for organisms at Dawson Pond.

In the 2011-12 academic year, the Arboretum initiated a partnership with the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) School. In collaboration with teachers, Arboretum Science Specialist Ana Maria Caballero provided science instruction in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classrooms throughout the school year, covering topics on plants and animals, earth science, weather studies, and physical science. Students in each elementary grade at the BTU School—as well as students in the eighth grade—participated in field studies at the Arboretum. Additional outreach included an open house for the families of BTU School students to showcase student achievement resulting from the first year of the partnership.

In the 2012-13 academic year, the Arboretum expanded its collaboration with the BTU School to enhance life science study in grades 3―5. Additionally, a new field study was created to complement the second grade classroom study of insects. In the 2013-14 academic year, the Arboretum created another field study to deepen the fourth grade study of animal adaptations. Led by Science Specialist Sara Van Note, the Arboretum also collaborated with the K1 classroom to support more outdoor exploration in the schoolyard.

BTU Damoni science notebook terrarium

Woodland terrarium observational drawing for science notebook

BTU Lamarie spider plant notebook

Second grade students record the growth of new plants in science notebooks.

BTU Air and Weather word bank

Vocabulary for Air and Weather studies

BTU students observe aquarium

Students observe organisms in a freshwater aquarium.

BTU cranberries in pie plate

K2 students learn about color in nature.