Plant Quest looks at how the plants in different sorts of woodland change and why this happens. This activity introduces the idea of a quadrat as a means of sampling the real world. It is based on the idea that you can't count every plant, so taking a sample is the only way to measure what might be happening in a larger area.
OBJECTIVE: to identify plants and woodland types through creative exploration and field work.
TIME: 1 hour
LOCATION: areas of native woodland and plantations.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED: activity sheets, quadrats(1 per group), 1 metre rule, light meter, pH and moisture probes (1 per group)
To make a quadrat you can use a hula-hoop or card strips (50cm long) and paper clips.
Did you know?
There may be several different habitats within a woodland area; it is much more than just a group of trees and other plants.
Before the Activity
Practise using a quadrat in the school grounds or local park. Count the number of different plants in the quadrat. Practise using any other equipment you have at the same time - light meter, moisture probe, pH probe.
Discuss the importance of scientific method in using a quadrat - where should you put it? What about fair testing - how many times should you 'throw' the hoop to make sure your findings are representative of the area as a whole? Have a look at the recording sheets and how you will use them.
This activity will involve moving between different woodland areas. At the first site, split into groups. Each group should use the 'Tree Key' to identify what type of trees are in the woodland. Once the woodland type is identified, use the 'Quadrat Sheet', and the quadrats to measure the plants in the woodland.
When all the groups are finished, move on to the next area of woodland for the quadrat measurements.
Repeat the above for all the different woodland areas.
Suggested follow up
- You can age young conifers by counting the number of whorls of branches, they grow about one whorl each year. To age a broadleaf tree you can measure its girth. Measure the trunk in centimetres at about 1.5m from the ground and divide by 2.5 for a very approximate age.
- Compare their results. Draw charts (bar/pie) from the figures. Display the results.
- Discuss the differences between native and exotic species for wildlife value.
- Ask a forester in to school to explain the different management used in plantation forests such as: landscape value, attracting wildlife and for recreation, and why there has been this change in the last 30 years.
- Look closely at the shape of the leaves. Copy the shapes and the lines carefully using a pencil or fine pen. Use your key to identify which trees these leaves come from.
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