Measuring the height of a tree (using a friend)
Source:Schools Out - Fieldwork made easy: A teacher's pack for 5-14 Environmental Studies produced by Highland Environmental Network School Group
- To measure the height of a tree
You will need
- A pencil
- A friend
- Measuring tape
Did you know?The tallest tree in Britain is a Douglas fir in Reelig Glen near Beauly, Scotland. It was last measured in 2005, at 64 metres, beating a contender a Welsh Douglas Fir at Powys Castle which measured 62.5 metres.
Before the Activity
Get the class to practice taking 1 metre paces, by chalking out a line with
marks at metre intervals. Then test accuracy by taking 10 paces and measuring
the distance actually paced.
- Spread the class out to work in pairs. More than one group can work on a tree, if they space out around it. Get one of the pair to stay beside the tree, and the other person moves away from the tree
- They hold the pencil at arms length vertically, and move position until the bottom of the tree trunk is level with the bottom of the pencil, and the top of the tree is level with the top of the pencil.
- Keeping their positions they turn the pencil to a horizontal position, holding the end of the pencil at the base of the tree.
- They ask their friend to walk away from the tree at a right angle, to an imaginary line drawn from the base of the tree to the pencil holder. They shout to their friend to stop when the friend is level with the end of their pencil
- Mark the spot where the friend stops. The distance between this mark and the base of the tree is the height of the tree.
- The distance can be measured roughly by pacing out or exactly by using a retractable measuring tape or trundle wheel.
The Schools Out worksheet (see downloads) provides a good series of illustrations to explain the method.
Suggested Follow up
- Find out more about the trees in the school grounds, research the modern day uses, historical uses, folklore and wildlife value of the wood, bark, twigs and fruit. Are the trees native or non-native?
- Try the activity Tree Mapping Survey in the Woodland Ways section
- Try the activity
Native versus Non-native in the Woodland Ways
- Schools Out - Woodlands Section - see the worksheet 'Measuring the height of a tree'
- Information and an illustrations of native trees in Scotland
- Information on native trees, folklore and uses Trees for Life
Additional InformationThe wood product trail - information and a quiz about products from trees from all over the world: from the Forest Education Initiative web site