Through a simulation, students explore the ecosystem components that trees need to live and grow, and learn how organisms in an ecosystem often must compete for their needs.
- Participate in a simulation representing how a tree depends on the ecosystem in which it lives to survive and thrive.
- List necessary requirements for a tree to survive as well as some factors that can contribute to the loss of a tree.
- Discuss how foresters can use their knowledge of competition in caring for a stand of trees.
- Tree trunk or branch cross-sections showing annual growth rings (optional)
- Paper plates, 1 per student
- Crayons or markers
- Pieces of blue, yellow, and green paper (or three colors of math cubes or poker chips)
- Every Tree for Itself Score Card student page
- Getting Ready: 15 minutes
- Doing the Activity: One or two 50-minute periods
- Evaluate: 40 minutes
- Cut two 3″ x 3″ (7.6 cm x 7.6 cm) squares out of blue, yellow, and green construction paper for each student. You might also use colored math cubes or poker chips, which work much better than paper if you’re doing the activity outdoors on a breezy day.
- Make copies of the student page.
- (Optional) Obtain tree trunk or branch cross-sections showing annual growth rings. These are sometimes called tree cookies and are often available from tree-trimming services or forest industries.
- Decide what material from the Background page to share with students. For example, you might present some of the information in the Explain part of Doing the Activity, or use the suggested Discussion Questions to support a casual conversation on the topic.
- See Additional Resources to find other supports for teaching this activity.
You may use the Key Vocabulary: Every Tree for Itself student page to introduce students to the following vocabulary terms or to review or assess their mastery of these terms. Note that the definitions below are geared for students, while the definitions that “pop up” within the activity text online are geared for the teacher.
|Carbon dioxide||A gas that is made up of carbon and oxygen. Animals exhale this gas, and plants use it to make food.|
|Ecosystem||A community of living things interacting with their environment.|
|Growth ring||A layer of wood formed in a tree or other plant during a growth period.|
|Nutrient||A substance needed for health and growth.|
|Reproduce||To produce offspring or young.|
A group of organisms that share the same characteristics and can
PLT Conceptual Framework
- 1.2. The arrangement of living and nonliving components within a habitat determines the organisms it can support.
- 2.1. Organisms are interdependent and depend on nonliving components of the Earth.
- 2.2. Altering the environment affects all life forms, including humans, and the interrelationships
that link them.
See Standards Connections in the Appendices for a list of standards addressed in this activity.