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Glimpse Into a Summer Science Course

Smith student Lesley Joplin ’09, an intern at the Botanic Garden spoke to students in the Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP) about a Camperdown Elm as part of a course called “Experiment and Exploration: A Laboratory for Writers.”

What are they looking at?

The cultivar 'Camperdownii' originated from a seedling found growing at Camperdown House near Dundee, Scotland, in the early 1800s. The tree, located next to the rock garden, is a weeping elm that is grafted onto an upright elm to create a dramatic display of the pendulous branches. Joplin points to the graft union on the trunk where the bark patterns of the two elms are quite different. This elm produces a beautiful bright yellow fall color.

How does it fit into the course?

The course, taught by Robert Hosmer, senior lecturer of English Language & Literature, focused on strategies for generating substantive, graceful writing from observation. In the beginning of the course, students focused on nature as a laboratory for a variety of exercises emphasizing description and narration. Later, they shifted attention on the arts — poetry, painting, and sculpture.

What do the students think of the course?

"Wow—I learned how to be a great writer. I loved everything about it."

"Mr. Hosmer is an inspiring professor. He taught me many things about writing that have helped me greatly."

"It is hard work but you get so much out of it. You learn about not only writing, but also life and yourself."

"I definitely recommend this course because I feel like I grew as a writer and produced some of my best writing ever."

"This class is good for college preparation."

"I liked all the field trips and I enjoyed being able to write so freely."

"I would recommend this course to someone who is serious about writing, or just wants to improve her writing. It goes deeply to the heart of writing essays and analyzing your own work and style to improve it."

Compiled by Judith Roberge 7/26/07


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