The Mystery of the Mass of a Very Special Tree

Today was the official start of our Grade 7 Plant Unit, in which we took some time to become familiar with “The President,” a giant sequoia tree found in northern California. Scientists believe that this tree is the largest giant sequoia tree in the world. You can meet The President yourself in the video below…

After watching this video we then considered some ‘presidential’ data:

  • The President is over 99 meters tall.
  • The President is over 9 meters in diameter.
  • The President is approximately 3200 years old.
  • The President has over 2 billion leaves.
  • The President’s wet mass (or biomass) is estimated at 1.8 million kilograms
  • The President’s dry mass is estimated at 550,000 kilograms or 550 metric tons.

We then asked a rather straightforward (but not so simple!) question:

How could The President–which started life 3200 years ago as a small seed with less than 2 grams of total mass–transform itself into a gigantic tree with over 1.8 million kilograms of wet mass (or over 550,000 kilograms of dry mass)?

This is the main question to which we will be devoting most of the first semester. Where did the mass of The President–the largest giant sequoia tree in the world in terms of total mass–come from? Trying chewing on that thought tonight while you’re lying in your bed.

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About Doc Bretto

Equal parts teacher, naturalist, teacher educator, and education researcher, I have a Ph.D. in science education and nourish my soul with a steady diet of anthropology, history, and philosophy--but also with photography, gastronomy, fußball/football, and freeriding in the European Alps.
This entry was posted in Grade 7, Middle School Science, Plants, Research Question and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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