Everyday Nature Tasks: Simple Activities For Outdoor Fun and Learning from Arnold Arboretum

There are a lot of simple nature tasks for all ages. The Arnold Arboretum has suggestions for things you can do in your own backyard or neighborhood while social distancing.  

"Nature can be a powerful antidote to all the uncertainty and disruptions that we find ourselves living in at the moment. Children especially can find comfort in activities that mirror the normal routines of school or daycare," says the Arboretum's website. There's a different activity each weekday.

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Arboretum Students’ Panamanian Expeditions Examine How Species Persevere in Face of Climate Change

Last month, two graduate students from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University traveled to one of the most species-rich landscapes in the world: a remote strip of tropical rainforest at the narrowest point in the Central American country of Panama. Ben Goulet-Scott, a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) and a fellow in the Arboretum’s Hopkins Lab, and Jacob Suissa, OEB Ph.D. candidate in the Friedman Lab at the Arboretum, hope their research in the Mamoní Valley Preserve in Panama will increase our understanding of how biodiversity can persevere in the face of climate change, deforestation, and human disturbance. The 20-square-mile land conservancy on the isthmus separating Central and South America teems with life, making the condensed rainforest habitat a perfect location for their research project because of the vast number of known and potentially undiscovered species living there, Goulet-Scott said. “New England has twice the land area of Panama, but half the number of bird species, and 10 times fewer reptiles and amphibians,” he said. “This particular location contains species that migrate or move from north to south and get funneled into this very narrow area, concentrating an incredible amount of biodiversity.”

The Mamoní Valley Preserve (MVP) Natural History Project is an ongoing series of student-led field expeditions, organized by Goulet-Scott in 2017.

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BPS High Schoolers Learn From the Trees at Arnold Arboretum

As David Mays walked through the snow-covered Central Woods of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University last month, gazing at the red oaks and the eastern white pines, the 17-year-old wondered if trees alone can save the planet. “Are trees the only thing that will stop global warming?” Mays asked. “How many should we plant before we graduate? I want to support humans, nature, and save the Earth.”

Mays was one of 25 high school students from the Boston Day and Evening Academy in Roxbury learning about forest ecology, carbon’s role in ecosystems, and how trees mitigate climate change at a special program at the Arboretum. Designed as part of Boston Public School’s biology curriculum, the two-day experience let students conduct hands-on fieldwork in the landscape and engage with Harvard researchers in interactive panel discussions about climate change.

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