During the first weeks of school, the junior Project Based Learning cohort (PBL11) visited historic, picturesque Curtis Arboretum on numerous occasions to make a personal connection with the 47-acre public space with rolling hills, two ponds, a dog park, World War II memorial and more than 50 tree varieties. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the arboretum was established in the 1930s by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, founder of Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music in honor of her father Cyrus Curtis, an American magazine and newspaper publisher.
After learning a collection of environmental concepts in science, the students were tasked with taking photographs to represent the concepts. Each student created a portfolio of pictures and selected their best five to show at their exhibition at Curtis Arboretum on Thursday, Sept. 12.
Throughout the exhibition, visitors interacted with descriptions of each environmental concept and student pictures illustrating the concept. Students also showed portraits taken in each student’s favorite spot in the arboretum and excerpts from their personal narratives which explained how the spot, and the park overall, made them feel.
The cameras, printers and photographic supplies used in this project were purchased through an innovation grant from the Cheltenham School District Foundation to PBL-11.
This project represents the first step in a new collaboration between PBL11, Cheltenham Township, the Friends of Curtis Arboretum (FoCA) and the Tookany-Tacony Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) In their next project cycle, students will work with these partners to restore and enhance the arboretum, a uniquely Cheltenham community resource.