ARCHIVED CONTENT: In December 2020, the CZO program was succeeded by the Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZ Net) ×

Educational Resources

Tools of the Trade: Methods for Measuring Trees

Use several different methods to measure and compare the sizes of trees.

Grades 3 - 8

Educational Objectives

By the end of this activity, students will be able to:

  • Compare methods of measuring a tree
  • Observe patterns and differences among tree species 


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NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns | Scale, Proportion, and Quantity | Systems and System Models | Structure and Function | Stability and Change

NGSS Science & Engineering Practices: Asking Questions and Defining Problems | Planning and Carrying Out Investigations | Analyzing and Interpreting Data | Engaging in Argument from Evidence | Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS1 - From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes | LS2 - Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics | LS3 - Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits | LS4 - Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity | ESS1 - Earth's Place in the Universe | ESS3 - Earth and Human Activity | ETS1 - Engineering Design

Observatory: Sierra CZO

Author(s): Michelle Gilmore (UC Merced)

Funding: Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory

Details for this Resource

Trees can be small, and trees can be big. How do we determine a tree’s size? How can we size up one tree versus another? In this activity designed for 3rd-8th graders, students work in teams and use one or several different methods to measure and compare the sizes of trees.

Note: Proposed NGSS alignment and 5E lesson structure (less Evaluate) are included in the activity guide. This activity was originally developed for Merced County Office of Education's TEAM-E Science Training for elementary and middle school teachers.