Time in a Tree: Elementary STEM

Students measure a tree during program

Time in a Tree


Students participate in a field based activity in which they will be using estimation and measuring skills. Students will work in groups to identify various tree species in the Great Falls area, and learn about why trees are important for the ecosystem. Students will also learn about growth factors for trees, and identify how weather patterns can affect nature.
Location: Great Falls Tavern
Length: 1 Hour
Cost: $5

At the end of the activity, students should be able to…

1.Explain real-life, field-based applications of science,

2.Understand how historians use historic structures as primary sources,

3.Use tools such as thermometers, tape measures, and yard sticks to collect data,

4.Understand life on the C&O Canal during its operating years.

The park partnered with Montgomery County Public Schools to develop this field trip along with pre- and post-visit activities for your classroom. Completing the classroom activities will enhance student learning. The lessons include watching a short video about the tunnel and completing a journal and mapping activity (links below).

Field Trip Itinerary

Working in small groups of 3-5, students will take tree measurements including height and circumference, and compare their data to other groups. Students will play a game to help demonstrate what trees need to live and grow.

Finally, student scientists will share observations about their data.

Pre-Visit Activities

These pre-visit classroom activities introduce students to the canal.

·Option A: Locking Through Video. Students watch the five-minute video on the process of how a lift lock operates in the canal system to raise and lower canal boats and discuss in the classroom.

·Option B: Journey on the C&O Canal. Students complete an activity following Michael O'Leary as he traveled the canal in 1876. This lesson addresses a host of indictors and objectives in both reading and social studies. Students will learn why the C&O Canal is an amazing accomplishment in Maryland's history, understand more about the genre of historical fiction, and describe what a typical nine-year old canal boy and family were like in the late 1800's. Join Michael on his journey.

·Option C: Web Rangers (STEM Activity). Students complete a National Park Service online activity called Dendrochronology. It is a STEM activity about using growth rings on trees to learn about the past. No registration is required and the activity is free. Other learning modules are available, and students may create a password to help them track their progress at Ranger School.

Post-Visit Activities

Use one or more of these lessons as a post-visit activity.

·Option A: Build a Lock (STEM Activity). Students build a working lift lock using simple materials. See: Build a Lift Lock STEM Guide for more details.

·Option B: Family Tree Cookie. Students complete their family tree cookie, incorporating a home/parent connection. See Family Tree Cookie Instruction Sheet for more details.

·Option C: Complete Junior Ranger Book. Ask the students to work through the Junior Ranger book. When they are complete, a ranger can come to the school for a swearing in ceremony. For a copy of the Junior Ranger Book please email the education department using the contact information listed below.

Plan Your Visit

For more materials, information, and to schedule a field trip, e-mail the education department.


Canal Classrooms Rangers

email us


Last updated: January 23, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740



Contact Us