Endowed by Arboretum friends Nod and Henry Meyer in the 1990s, the Arnold Arboretum’s Field Study Experiences are a rare combination of the most fortuitous opportunities for learning. The diversity of plants and habitats creates multiple settings for discovery. Nearing its thirty-fifth year of serving Boston area schools, the free programs continue to follow a longstanding philosophy emphasizing depth over breadth and small group dynamics to open the doors of discovery to elementary scientists. Our Field Study guides learn a great deal about life science to share with visiting students, and their commitment to excellence extends to learning how to engage children with diverse learning needs. With additional funding from the Clinton H. & Wilma T. Shattuck Charitable Trust, the Arboretum also offers free bus transportation to BPS classrooms, eliminating the financial barrier to high-quality science study in the outdoors. As a rare museum that is open daily, free of charge, the Arboretum offers Field Study participants the added benefit of returning anytime they wish to continue their explorations and enjoyment of the natural world.
This spring, the Arboretum welcomed several new schools and new teachers to the Field Study Experiences. Fifth graders from Roslindale’s Phineas Bates School attended our Ecosystems Field Study on Hemlock Hill. The Curley School in Jamaica Plain and Tobin School in Roxbury brought their third and fourth graders to learn about flower anatomy and function, a program we also piloted with second graders from the Pauline A. Shaw School in Dorchester as part of their study of pollinators. We also welcomed several new classes from Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston, Mildred Avenue School in Mattapan, McKay School in East Boston, and Tobin School for programs aligned with first and second grade life science study, introducing our programs to teachers and students who had never visited the Arboretum before. All tallied this spring, we offered 34 programs to some 1100 students from 60 individual classrooms in Boston Public Schools, all with free bus transportation to and from our landscape.
The completion of our spring school programs means we are preparing in earnest for the 2018-19 school year, as well as ramping up training opportunities for Boston Public School Teachers. In August, we look forward to bringing local educators together for our third Summer Institute, our professional development opportunity for BPS teachers designed to boost their own familiarity with life science and teaching kids in the outdoors. This year’s four-day workshop focuses on field work to examine the relationships between organisms in forest and meadow ecosystems. This fall, the Arboretum will also recruit more volunteers to join our intrepid and experienced corps of Field Study guides. Scheduling for fall programs begins in August. For more information on teacher training opportunities, scheduling school visits for fall, or volunteering as a Field Study Experiences guide, please contact Nancy Sableski, Manager of Children’s Education.