Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

The Dendro Intro

Instructional Level: Middle School - Earth Science

Lesson Plan Standards: 

NGSS: MS-LS1-5, MS-LS2-1
CCSS: 6.SF.B.4, WHST.6-8.9
MD E-Lit: 1A, 3A, 3B

Lesson Plan: 


Driving Question(s):

How can the subject of dendroclimatology be used to reveal historical changes in a climate?


Dendrochronology is the study of tree rings and dating trees and/or other samples of wood. Students will be introduced to dendrochronology and the types of wood produced by trees by using an interactive National Park Service website.

Photo credit:  Cherry tree cross section.  Shelby Sawyers, 

Northwest Middle School, Carroll County Public Schools.


Students will:

  1. Use an interactive National Park Service website to learn about types of wood and dendrochronology.

Lesson Materials: 

Computers or computer workstations.


  1. Use the NPS WebRangers page to learn about the science of dendrochronology,  Specifically, have students focus on:

a.  Learning about how tree rings are formed.

b.  The different types of wood produced by a tree.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): 


Standards: MS. Growth, Development, and Reproduction of Organisms

Performance Expectations: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.


Name and NGSS code/citation

Specific Connections to Classroom Activity

Science & Engineering Practices

Planning and carrying out investigations

Obtaining, Evaluating and communicating information

Accessing web site to obtain information on tree ring formation

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns, Cause & Effect, Stability and Change

Scale, Proportion and Quantity

Accessing web site to obtain information on tree ring formation

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-LS1.B Growth and Development of Organisms

MS-LS1.B Genetic factors as well as local conditions affect the growth of the adult plant

Accessing web site to obtain information on tree ring formation and the age of a tree

Common Core State Standards (CCSS): 


Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.

Environmental Literacy Goals (E-Lit): 


Environmental Issue Investigation


Analyze and explain the movement of matter and energy through interactions of earth systems.


Analyze and explain the influence of this movement on...the distribution of life.