Life Science Activity
Tree Rings

This life science activity looks at tree rings and how they can tell about the weather and other conditions when it was growing. Find the history of your area in tree rings.

You can look at tree rings in the stump of a tree and see if it was living when there was a drought or flood. Good growing seasons produce larger tree rings while drought and insects decrease the size of the growth rings in the trees

Life science activity, Tree Rings, Photo by Myrna Martin

Materials

  • Tree cookies
  • Tree stumps
  • Paper
  • Pencil

Directions

  1. If you are living in an area that has a lot of trees people often cut down older trees that are dying from old age or disease.
  2. See if you can find some of these trees and count tree rings.
  3. Each year during good growing seasons and poor growing seasons trees add a new growth ring which are generally referred to as tree rings.
  4. Each tree ring has two parts: a wider light ring and a narrow dark ring.
  5. Starting in the center of the tree count to the outer edge where the bark is located.
  6. You can measure the size of the growth rings with a small ruler.
  7. Sometimes if there are no trees available in your area to study you might find some one who is cutting off limbs on a tree.
  8. Have the person cut thin slices from several limbs to study. These thin sliices are called tree cookies.
  9. Tree cookies do not tell you the age of the tree but he age of the limb on the tree.
  10. The picture on this page was chosen because of the growth rings on the tree.
  11. This tree was leaning over and the tree rings indicate how the tree grew wider tree rings on one side as the top of the tree tried to vertically.
  12. Look for trees that might show unusual growth rings as you study the growth rings of trees in your area.

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