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Activities

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All Year Long Science Journal Activity

This activity shows how students will keep a science journal during each of the four seasons. Students will record observations of the general outdoor environment they visit and then will make observations of one specific item from the habitat in each season. At the end of the school year, students will make comparisons of their seasonal drawings and share their results with the class.

Build a Clinometer

Simple Instructions for how to build a paper clinometer (an instrument used to measure angles) and use it to calculate the height of a tree.

Video demonstrating building and using a paper clinometer

More detailed instructions from the GLOBE Teacher's Guide

Building Blocks: A Demonstration of How Trees Grow

This activity uses building blocks to demonstrate where trees get the materials they need to grow.

Freeze/Thaw - The Breathing Boreal Forest

In this activity students play the role of coniferous trees. First they learn about seasonal freeze/thaw cycles and dormancy through a game of tag. Students then juggle complex environmental factors to try to survive a growing season in a changing climate. Connections between freeze/thaw cycles, photosynthesis and the global carbon cycle are explored.

Measure a Tree

What is the tallest object you can measure with a meterstick? A fence? The ceiling? Have you ever disagreed with someone about the height of a tree or building? If you work as a team, you can measure the height of any object!

Stories Trees Tell: Learning the Language of Our Tall Forest Friends

This activity will help you understand how dendrochronology, or the study of data from tree ring growth, can help us to understand more about a tree’s age along with trauma and environmental events it has encountered over the course of its lifetime.

Watch a video about tree stories

Tree Health Check-Up

Just like people can be healthy or sick, so can trees! Experts who study trees (called arborists) look for symptoms in trees to determine whether they are healthy or not. This activity guides you through looking for some of these indicators in a tree near you. The one-pager version of the activity is self-contained, with all the instructions included as part of the worksheet. The guide version has the instructions separated from the worksheet and includes a few more examples, which may be more useful for a facilitator leading a group activity, or when the extra text on the workshop would be a distraction, as for younger children.

One-pager version

Guide version

Tree Height Comparisons: A Hand-Held Clinometer vs. the NASA GLOBE Observer Trees Tool

Taking great measurements and observations of tree height is vital to the accuracy of the science, to the comparison of the data to that of ICESat-2 and GEDI, and to the understanding of local to global impacts of trees on the environment. The objective is to do a comparison of the tree height measurements using a hand-held paper clinometer versus the NASA GLOBE Observer Trees Tool for citizen science and to explain any differences between the two measurement methods.

Tree Impact Study

Trees are among the oldest living organisms on Earth. Because of their size, complexity, and long life, trees provide a habitat, like an island, that rises far above the ground. Your goal in this study is to document the impact of a large tree on the environment of your school or community.

Tree Life Cycle: A Journey from Seed to Soil

Learn about the life cycle of trees by exploring the forest for the different stages of tree growth. This activity provides learners with further evidence that all living things grow and change as they progress through their life cycle, and that trees can be good habitats at each stage of life.

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About Trees

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Background Information: How does photosynthesis work?

An information sheet describing the process of photosynthesis and trees, and how trees fit in to the carbon cycle.

Using Trigonometry to Determine the Height of a Tall Object

Even though the NASA GO Trees Tool calculates the angles and tree height for you, please take a look at this great reference video that discusses the trigonometry used in calculating heights of tall object, like trees.

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Videos

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Amazon Canopy Comes to Life through Laser Data

[2:01] Flying and aircraft over the Brazilian Amazon with an instrument firing 300,000 laser pulses per second, NASA scientists have made the first 3D measurements of forest canopies in the region. With this research they hope to shed light on the effects of prolonged drought on forest ecosystems and to provide a potential preview of stresses on rainforests in a warming world.

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Breaking Down the Big Questions at NASA

[5:56] This video from My NASA Data, featuring GLOBE Observer Trees lead Brian Campbell, is a resource that can be used alongside any activity that involves creating and developing questions. The video focuses on questions about trees and uses examples from the GLOBE Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research Campaign, but the basic principles are necessary for asking scientific questions and can also be used in a broader context.

Video page on My NASA Data

GLOBE Observer: Tree Height

[1:20] Trees are diverse and tree height can tell us a lot about Earth’s ecosystems. Satellites and ground-based measurements are used to track tree growth, monitor how well an ecosystem supports trees, and estimate how much carbon is stored by trees. GLOBE’s citizen scientist community encourages citizen scientists to use the GLOBE Observer app to take tree height measurements with their smart phones. These observations are added to a freely available, global inventory of tree height.

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How To Take A Trees Observation

[8:21] GLOBE Observer Trees science lead Brian Campbell (NASA Wallops Flight Facility) demonstrates how to use the GO app to take a tree height measurement.

ICESat-2 Elevates Our World

[1:55] ICESat-2 provides scientists with height measurements that create a global portrait of Earth’s third dimension, gathering data that can precisely track changes of terrain including glaciers, sea ice, forests and more.

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Introduction to GLOBE Observer: Trees

[1:06] An introductory video for the GLOBE Observer: Trees tool, which allows users to measure the height of trees using their smartphone.

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NASA eClips: Dr. Lola Fatoyinbo Agueh

[1:51] Dr. Lola Fatoyinbo Agueh, a Research Physical Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, shares her journey from her childhood to current career in a video from NASA eClips.

Paper Clinometer Activity Demo

[12:29] Brian Campbell, science liaison and outreach lead for GLOBE Observer Trees, and his son Andy demonstrate how to make and use a simple paper clinometer to measure the height of trees. To do this activity, you will need a printout of the clinometer activity sheet, a straw, a pen or pencil, scissors, tape, string, and some sort of weight for the string such as a washer, nut or paperclip. A rigid surface such as clipboard or piece of cardboard may also be needed to attach the clinometer to as you are measuring the angle to the top of the tree.

Printable Paper Clinometer activity sheet

NASA eClips Real World: The Carbon Cycle

[5:43] Carbon is an essential building block for life. Learning how carbon is converted through slow- and fast-moving cycles helps us understand how this life-sustaining element moves through the environment. Discover how NASA measures carbon through both field work and satellite imagery keeping watch through its eyes on the sky, on Earth, and in space.

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The Adventures of Pho the Photon

[2:48] Pho, a plucky bright green photon of light, must travel from a NASA spacecraft down to Earth and back again to help complete a crucial science mission in this educational short film. The animation was created and produced by media art students from the Savannah College of Art in Design (SCAD) in Georgia, in collaboration with NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) mission. Their goal was to communicate the science and engineering of the mission, slated for launch in 2018.

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The GEDI Mission

[3:05] The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, or GEDI, uses advanced laser technology to reveal the makeup of remote forest ecosystems around the globe. Its measurements of the height of leaves, branches, trees, and shrubs below its path will help scientists map the structure of forests and better understand how ecosystems are storing or releasing carbon.

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The Secret Life of Forests

[3:29] Forests in the United States are constantly changing. For four decades NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat satellites have kept a steady watch from space, and now scientists are turning yearly data sets into powerful time series that show the evolution of the landscape. In this visualization of false color images taken of the Pacific Northwest from 1984 to 2011, scientists see many different stories.

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Tree Puns

[2:00] How many NASA scientists does it take to fill a video with tree puns? Watch to find out!

Trees Around the GLOBE Webinars

The Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research campaign has held a number of monthly webinars focusing on the scientific research of trees, and bringing in experts from around the world to share their current research experiences with trees and the importance of the GLOBE protocol measurements to understanding our planet's trees and their roles in our Earth's ecosystem. This page has a listing of archived webinars, as well as information about upcoming ones.

Trees, ICESat-2, Lasers, and Open Altimetry

[7:12] NASA's ICESat-2 uses lasers to measure heights on Earth, including tree heights. GLOBE Observer Trees science lead Brian Campbell from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility explains the satellite, how it connects to tree height observations, and how to access the data online through Open Altimetry.

Why Observe: Tree Height

[10:35] This video explores surface height measurement missions and the role that citizen science can play within the scientific community.

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Books

Use WorldCat to search libraries near you, read reviews, and find editions in different languages.

Books for Kids

Books for Teens and Adults

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Tutorials

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Introduction to GLOBE Observer: Trees

[1:06] An introductory video for the GLOBE Observer: Trees tool, which allows users to measure the height of trees using their smartphone.

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Tree Height Tutorial

PDF slideshow of the in-app Tree Height tutorial