Summer Institute

The Arnold Arboretum Summer Institute

Investigating Ecosystems Through Fieldwork

August 13-16, 2018, 9:00am-4:00pm
Participants will learn and practice fieldwork techniques in order to study of two ecosystems, an urban forest and a meadow. During the institute, teachers will sample the biodiversity of each area, gather abiotic data, examine the interrelationship between organisms, and learn more about decomposition, soil and nutrient cycling. Guest speakers will share their expertise in data gathering, fieldwork, botany, and ecosystems. Participants will spend about half their time outdoors working in teams, with indoor time spent in analysis, reflection and sharing of best practices.


An Opportunity for Educators

examining ferns

Teachers examine fern structures.

This year’s 4 day institute is intended for all educators of grades 3 through High School. Preference is given to teachers from the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and we encourage teams of teachers (up to 4 people) from the same school to apply together. Single applications are also accepted. Other specialists are also encouraged to join a team, or apply singly.

Goals of the Institute

1.  To give teachers needed knowledge about plants that will enable them to create lessons/units of study aligned with the new Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering Standards.

2.  To expose teachers to using the outdoors in general, and the Arnold Arboretum in particular, as a means for teaching life science standards.

3.  To share resources, teaching ideas, materials, and expertise with teachers so they can feel confident in and comfortable with leading purposeful life science lessons, both indoors and outdoors.


Educator searches for algae and moss.

4.  To develop relationships with teacher teams within BPS schools for continued professional development during the school year, including school visits by Arboretum Educators and facilitated field trips to the Arboretum.

Teacher Benefits

  • Free, high quality professional development taught by Harvard professors and Arboretum staff.
  • 28 PDPs for 4 day attendance.
  • For BPS teachers:  Bus transportation for a self-guided field trip to the Arboretum during the following school year. Available to the first 20 educators who apply and attend the institute.
  •  Teachers from demographics similar to Boston Public School students will be considered for a bus benefit.
  • A collegial atmosphere set in a beautiful landscape for timely and relevant learning.
  • Continental breakfast, coffee, and drinks daily.

The Summer Institute 2017: “Build a Plant Bottom to Top” was held from August 21-24, 2017.  Read about it!

View 2017 Syllabus and Resources.