Published on December 5, 2017

Real Math, Real Science: Connecting 7th Graders to Nature

Students calculating tree circumference

Broad Meadow Brook provides a wide range of school programming, for preschool through university students. One of our favorite programs is Real Math, Real Science, which we offer in collaboration with the CultureLEAP program for seventh graders in Worcester Public Schools.

Real Math, Real Science is a longstanding, experiential STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) learning program that offers practical exercises and examples to support the Massachusetts science standards. The program connects Worcester students to the city’s natural diversity and land use history.

All About Trees

Students learning how to measure tree height

This year, over 1,700 students are participating in Real Math, Real Science. Program participants are trying to answer the question “Why are big trees important, especially in an urban ecosystem?”

To find the answers, students come to Broad Meadow Brook and take on the roles of scientists. Teacher naturalists show them how to measure the height of a tree and calculate the amount of board footage, thus putting an economic value on our trees. Students also learn about the watershed and the role that humans and trees play in it, using math and science skills in a fun, practical way. 

An extra benefit of the program is that the students who come to Broad Meadow Brook learn that the sanctuary is open and free to all Worcester residents. All students are invited to come back to the sanctuary and share it with their families and friends.

Kathy Berube is a big fan of the program, which has run for a decade. She is the Science and Technology/Engineering Liaison for Worcester Public Schools. “Most of our students do not have the opportunity to experience nature on their own, much less with a naturalist as a guide," she says. "The excitement of a city kid when he or she sees a salamander or a frog in its natural habitat is so gratifying."

"One student even told me that he wants to be a naturalist and he never knew that someone could have a real job doing these things! To spark a budding passion for nature and for science is by far the best product of this program.”


In order to bring all seventh graders in Worcester Public Schools to Broad Meadow Brook, we rely on support from many sources. The school district is committed to the program and provides planning support and scheduling assistance, but it doesn't have the funding to support it. 

Partial financial support is provided through grants to the Worcester Educational Development Foundation from the George I. Alden Trust and the Stoddard Charitable Trust. In addition, Broad Meadow Brook must raise an additional $18,000 annually to cover the cost of delivering the program.

Gifts and grants to the sanctuary—including lead grants from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the Camosse Family Foundation—enable the sanctuary to participate in this meaningful initiative.

For more information, or to contribute to this important educational program, please contact Development Director Shelley Rodman.