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Leaning Trees

There are a group of trees in this forest. Please note that one tree is not standing upright like the neighboring trees are doing.

Adair county, Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • What would make only one tree grow parallel to the ground while the neighboring trees appear to grow in a traditional fashion?
  • Is there any observable suggesting that a weather event would have led to this tree’s unusual growth pattern? 
  • Is there any observable evidence that would indicate any physical damage to the tree itself? 

Classroom Suggestions

  • This should easily fit into a plant growth and reproduction lesson within a life science unit. 4-LS1-1; plant and animal structures.
  • Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior and reproduction.
  • This could include a short write up, or written and illustrated journal entries. Students could also have a discussion or debate on cause and effect. 
  • What would cause a perfectly healthy tree to grow in such an unusual fashion? Do you see any evidence of storm damage to the tree itself or the surrounding area in the forest? How could these phenomena show effects in the growth of trees in general? 
  • Consider having students respond to the following questions in a journal entry:
  • Why does the tree grow so unusually?
  • What are the four main necessities a tree, or any plant, needs to grow properly? Is there a chance that one or more of the tree's necessities have not been met, causing it to grow this way? 
  • Move on into a short reference of how the various parts of a tree (or any plant) function to support its life and structure.

Related Resources

What Do Plants Need to Grow?: This video describes the four necessities for all plants.
PEACH | How Does it Grow?: This video shows the live cycle of a peach tree.

Iowa Core Alignment

Life Science
Disciplinary Core Idea
LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes

Credit Info

Submitted by Marcus Patten


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