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Tree Straws Activity

Grade Level: 4-8

MS-LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

LS1.A: Structure and Function
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life
MS-LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
LS2.B: Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems

Content Area: science

Recommended Length/Duration: 30-45 minutes

Goals: Based on grade level, students learn about the properties of different types of wood, about xylem and phloem, living cells vs dead cells in trees, the growth of hardwood and relative strengths, tree transpiration/translocation (root water uptake, pressure differentials…)

(MS-LS-1: Conduct and investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.;MS-LS1-6: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms. MS-LS2-3: Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and non-living parts of an ecosystem.)


Have students write observations about the properties of each wood column. Which columns moved water the farthest? Why? Which had xylem/phloem large enough to suck water through? What determines the size of the xylem/phloem? Attempt to assess understanding of the movement of resources through a tree/ecosystem by asking students to represent these ideas in a drawn diagram.