NCAR - National Center for Atmospheric Research
Activity takes about 50-60 minutes.Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»
See how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
Although activity is written for high school it can easily be used in middle school.
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing 4c
Other materials addressing 5b
Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
Notes From Our Reviewers
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- Educators should explain to students how the matching of tree rings between trees of different ages is done (by searching for patterns to extend the record past the life of just one tree).
- Great opportunity to touch on radiometric dating techniques that allow scientists to absolutely date trees that are found in bogs and other environments.
- Trees don't die from coring - students will probably ask.
- Educators should explain to students the elliptic growth of trees.
- Educators should indicate that dendrochronology is a complex science and large uncertainties can exist.
- Educators might want to provide alternatives to a simple cross section of tree rings and provide a better explanation of tree coring.
- Educators may want to project images instead of using overhead transparencies.
- Additional Resources links on page 4 don't work. Two of them are incorrect and one of the NASA websites is not available anymore.
- For a good alternative activity on dendrochronology see Signs of Change: Studying Tree Rings activity at http://www.climatechangenorth.ca/section-LP/LP_28_HI_M_nancy.html.
- Additional resources and science articles about dendrochronology at the Arizona Tree Ring site http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu.
About the Science
- The links between tree ring thickness to past climate and other influences on tree ring thickness are not well described and should be provided through supplemented materials by educator.
- Lots of background materials for students to understand the scientific process.
- Comment from scientist: Sometimes wood from ancient structures, when aligned with chronologies from living trees, extends a chronology even further back than indicated in activity. The date of the structure provides an approximate date of when the trees were felled. One chronology for river oaks from southern Germany extends more than 10,000 years, and another for bristlecone pine in the White Mountains, California extends more than 8,500 years.
- More background information: Esper, J., Cook, E.R., and Schweingruber, F.H. (2002). Low-frequency signals in long tree-ring chronologies for reconstructing past temperature variability. Science, 295, 2250-2253.
About the Pedagogy
- Good example of how to use analysis of data and graphs to infuse content knowledge.
- Plotting graphs and analyzing data addresses needs of visual learners.
- Activity does excellent job of supplying good questions for educators to ask students at the beginning of lesson and to scaffold learning.
Technical Details/Ease of Use
- Well designed and organized.
- All materials are available in printable form.
Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN
- This activity is part of a larger collection. The parent pages to this activity can be found under http://eo.ucar.edu/educators/ClimateDiscovery/.
Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:
Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1
MS-LS2.A3:Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources.
Cross Cutting Concepts: 4
MS-C7.1: Explanations of stability and change in natural or designed systems can be constructed by examining the changes over time and forces at different scales, including the atomic scale.
MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems
MS-C2.3:Phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.
MS-C3.3: Proportional relationships (e.g., speed as the ratio of distance traveled to time taken) among different types of quantities provide information about the magnitude of properties and processes.
Science and Engineering Practices: 6
MS-P3.2:Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation
MS-P4.4:Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.
MS-P5.2:Use mathematical representations to describe and/or support scientific conclusions and design solutions
MS-P6.1:Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s) and/or describe(s) phenomena.
MS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, models, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.
MS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles.
Cross Cutting Concepts: 5
HS-C1.1:Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena
HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.
HS-C3.5:Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth).
HS-C6.1:Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem.
HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.
Science and Engineering Practices: 6
HS-P1.1:ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.
HS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.
HS-P3.5:Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated.
HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.
HS-P5.3:Apply techniques of algebra and functions to represent and solve scientific and engineering problems.
HS-P6.1:Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.