Trees in your school

Trees are often the most significant living things in school grounds for humans and other animals. A tree survey identifies the number of different tree species in the school grounds and their health. Strategies for caring for the trees can then be developed.

Values of trees

Stimulate discussion through questions such as:

  • What is the value of trees to people?
  • How might other living things value trees?
  • What value do you place on the trees in your school grounds? Do some have more value than others?
  • Discuss: trees are good, bush is better.

Tree investigation

Choose a tree in the school grounds and create a scientific drawing of it. Add labels that record the following information:

  • Location
  • Species of tree
  • Height (How to measure the height of a tree)
  • Width of tree branches
  • Girth (circumference) of the trunk at chest height
  • Description of its features, including the colour and shape of the bark, leaves, flowers and seed pods
  • Animals, or evidence of animals, using the tree, for example, cocoons in the bark and nests in the branches.

Investigate and describe the health of the tree:

  • Are the roots of the tree in hard, average or soft soil? (Note – there is as much tree growing under the ground as above it.)
  • Is there mulch on the ground or plants growing around the base of the tree?
  • Has the trunk got any holes, missing bark or other damage?
  • Are there any dead branches?  Are they large or small?
  • Are there plenty of new and old leaves on the tree?
  • Are there any insects or other animals living on the tree? (Hint – use a magnifier or small cardboard tube to look closely and carefully at the trunk, branches and leaves.)
  • What does all this tell you about the health of the tree? Is there anything that might be improved?
  • Are there many more trees like this one around?

Syllabus content

Tree investigations use skills in working scientifically and could be undertaken as part of investigations in the Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus and Science 7-10 Syllabus in:

  • Early Stage 1 Living world – needs of living things
  • Stage 1 Living world – living things live in different places
  • Stage 2 Living world – survival of living things
  • Stage 3 Living world – growth and survival of living things
  • Stage 4 Living world – solutions to conserving and managing sustainable ecosystems
  • Stage 5 Living world – conserving and maintaining the quality and sustainability of the environment.

Assessing the habitat value of a tree can be part of geographical investigations in the Geography K-10 syllabus in:

  • Stage 2 The Earth’s environment – significance of environments
  • Stage 5 Environmental change and management – environments.
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