Sawing Away

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In this outdoor activity, learners saw sections from fallen trees, then count tree rings and look closely at patterns of tree growth. Learners are challenged to find out if the top of a tree is older, younger, or the same age as the bottom. Learners also explore how patterns of tree growth give clues to environmental conditions over the years.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • bow saw (1 per team of two)
  • fine-tipped colored marking pens (2 per team of two)
  • small pieces of sandpaper, 10 cm x 15 cm (2 per team of two)
  • 1 data board and marking pen
  • brightly colored push pins
  • "Counting Growth Rings" Technique Card (page 5-6 of PDF)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1982