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Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • Maths
  • Science

Tree trunk circumference

Measuring the circumference of tree trunks and working out their age

Trees are an important part of our natural environment. Can you use your maths and science knowledge to better understand them and the environment around us?

In this fun activity for KS2, students will measure the circumference of a tree trunk and employ their numerical abilities to determine the tree’s age in years. They will then repeat this process with other trees and share their findings as a group.

This exercise could serve as a main lesson activity to teach learners how to gather data through measurement and apply their numerical skills in a practical context. It could also be incorporated into a larger curriculum that emphasises the use of maths and science to comprehend the natural world.

Activity: Tree trunk circumference

This is one of a set of free STEM resources developed to support the teaching of the primary national curriculum. They are designed to support the delivery of key topics within maths and science. This resource focuses on measuring the circumference of a tree trunk and using this information to calculate its age.

Trees can be identified and measured in and around the school grounds as available. Appropriate safeguarding checks and risk assessments will need to be put in place by the teacher depending on where the measuring of the trees takes place.

Taking the measurements may need two learners working as a pair or a group of three, one holding the end of the tape in place, the other wrapping around and taking the reading, optionally with a third recording the measurement. The measuring tape must be kept straight and level to give an accurate reading.

This is a fun and practical exercise that will challenge learners’ maths and science skills and encourage them to think about the ways in which environmental engineers interact with the natural world.

How long will this activity take?

This activity will take approximately 40-60 minutes to complete.

Tools/resources required

  • Access to an outside area with trees
  • Measuring tape
  • Clipboards
  • Calculators

The engineering context

As part of their daily job, engineers are obligated to frequently apply their mathematical knowledge and skills. Hence, it is imperative that they possess a thorough understanding of fundamental concepts, including measurement taking and interpretation.

Environmental engineers are responsible for enhancing the quality of the surrounding natural environment. Their job performance improves as they expand their comprehension of it.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity students will be able to measure the circumference of a tree, they will be able to calculate the age of a tree using its circumference and they will be able to communicate measurements using appropriate SI units.

Download the free Tree trunk circumference activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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