Pre-purchased tickets required. Tickets available online or by calling 716.896.5200   

Virtual Science Fair

View All Activities
science icon yellow - Tree Math

Tree Math

VSF presented by 3 e1587502584108 - Tree Math

Have science fun as a family! Complete activities with parental supervision.

  • Measuring tape OR a ruler and approximately 8 feet of string
  • Thumbtack
  • Paper and clipboard or a notebook
  • Pencil
  • Outdoors area with some trees
  • Optional: crayons, markers, or colored pencils
  1. Choose an area with some trees to survey. All the trees in your backyard, around your apartment building, one side of your street, or in a nearby park?
  2. Make a map of this area on your paper, including major land features like buildings or roads… and the trees. Draw larger circles to represent larger trees and smaller circles for smaller trees. Try to be as precise as you can in mapping out the trees so you can refer to your map later.
  3. When you measure the size of a tree, wrap the measuring tape or piece of string 4 feet and 6 inches (4.5 feet) up the trunk of the tree. If you do not have measuring tape, wrap string around the tree and then measure the string with the ruler. If the tree is too large for you to wrap your arms around, use the thumbtack to hold the measuring tape or string in place at a height of 4.5 feet, while you walk around the tree to measure.
  4. Write this measurement within the circle on your map that represents that tree. If you use inches, always measure in inches. If you use centimetres, always use centimetres.
  5. Do the same for all the trees on your map. Are the measurements all very similar, or are they different?
  6. Be sure to take a picture or video to share in the Facebook comments on the Buffalo Museum of Science or Tifft Nature Preserve pages!

What’s it all about?

Trees are amazing organisms, growing a little or a lot every year. Depending on the area, the trees living there may have been around for years and are older than anybody you know. Some trees are younger than you, but their branches are still way above your head!

Measuring trees can give you lots of information about them. This is why Foresters take a variety of tree measurements using different techniques. This field of science is called dendrometry. ‘Dendron” is the Greek word for “tree”.

In the field of forestry, a tree’s girth (circumference) can be measured by wrapping measuring tape around the tree’s trunk at a very specific height from the ground: 4.5 feet.

Try It!
  • After you collect your data, how do you want to examine and present it? You can make a line or bar graph of the tree girths on your map. Or you can simply list them all from smallest to largest.
2 measuring tree from ground.to 4.5 feet JPG scaled - Tree Math
4 measuring around tree scaled - Tree Math
3 measure up to 4.5 feet and mark with pushpin scaled - Tree Math

More Great Virtual Science Fair Activities

  • Decoder Wheel

    Secret codes have been used for thousands of years to send messages that you didn’t want just anyone reading. Try your hand at cryptography, the study of secret codes, in this Virtual Science Fair activity!Open Activity

  • Bird Beaks

    Explore how different bird beak adaptations can help birds eat and survive in this Virtual Science Fair activity!Open Activity

  • Saltwater, Freshwater

    How do you make drinkable water out of saltwater? Try making a solar sill in this Virtual Science Fair activity!Open Activity

  • Earthquake Epicenter

    Western New York had its very own earthquake yesterday afternoon! Scientists determined that the epicenter of this 2.3 magnitude earthquake was in Wanakah, NY - but what IS an epicenter? Check out this Virtual Science Fair activity to find out!Open Activity

  • Penny Chemistry

    Find out why the Statue of Liberty is that light green color in this Virtual Science Fair activity!Open Activity