Field Work Friday – How Old Is That Tree?

We’re a part of a botany co-op this year, and we’ve begun to study trees – their parts, what they do, and their part in our natural world.
We decided that this would be the perfect time to take a field trip back to see Park Ranger Mike DiFabio at Little River Regional Park.  He’s wonderful with our kids and always fascinates them with great information and field-specific tools, and he was certainly on the ball this time.
Photo by Susan B.
He began by reviewing the parts of a tree with them – the crown, trunk, and roots, as well as the xylum, phloem, cambium, etc. – and what each part does.  Mike got the kids talking about photosynthesis and the giving off of oxygen, and they were excited to share what they knew.  Then they moved on to aging trees.  The kids were excited to share that they knew about tree rings, and they were even happier when Mike showed them this tree ‘cookie.’
They weren’t sure how to find out the age of a tree without hurting the tree, however, until Mike showed them this special bore – and immediately found a tree to try it out.


Mike had the kids line up and let each one take a turn extracting a sample from the center of the tree out.  


He showed them how to count the rings to determine the age of the tree, and also what the varying distances between the rings might mean.


After that the group returned to the pavilion, where Mike gave the children their own tree “cooky” so they could count the rings themselves.  It’s definitely harder to do as the wood ages!

Mike outdid himself, as usual.  His lesson meshed perfectly with our studies and provided hands-on experience that we couldn’t give our children.  They were fascinated with the tools of his trade and excited to share about the new things that they’ve learned.  Thanks, Mike!

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