Teens Explore the Arnold Arboretum

On a beautiful Saturday in late-October, the teens of the Sister Circle Workshops and the STEM Internship Program came together for their first joint event of the year! Dr. Elena Kramer of Harvard University’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, took them on a guided tour of the Arnold Arboretum.

Part the Emerald Necklace, the Arnold Arboretum is an amazing assortment of trees, shrubs and vines that sits on roughly 280 acres of Boston’s Jamaica Plains.

Dr. Kramer took advantage of the perfect fall day to explain the process of dormancy that deciduous trees in New England go through, and also to showcase some of the more exotic trees in the Arboretum’s collection, like the endangered Metasequoia from WWII era China in 1948.

Further along the tour, Dr. Kramer explained the breeding processes involved in horticulture: the girls were particularly interested in a sad-looking weeping pine tree with a genetic mutation that causes its branches to grow down instead of up!

We also discovered that Bonsai can be hundreds of years old, and that they are, in fact, not just tiny trees…

After our tour of the grounds, we joined Director of Research Facilitation, Dr. Faye Rosin, and some of her graduate students at the Arboretum’s Weld Hill Microscopy Lab. Here, the girls learned about plant biology research, and were able to prepare a sample for inspection in an SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope).

From the microscopy lab, graduate student Rebecca Povilus led the girls to the green houses atop the research facility to explain her work on flowering plants. Here, the girls were introduced to the complicated reproduction patterns of water lilies, and got to experience a topical misting on their way out as the timed sprinklers worked their magic!

The girls had a wonderful time exploring the Arboretum, and we would love to send out a special thanks to Dr. Kramer and all of the scientists at the Weld Research Center who made the tour a great success!

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By Brandy Freitas, STEM Internships Manager

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