Biodiversity   |   M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University Botanical Garden team has created the lesson plan for inquire winter activity with students aged 10-13 years

03/09/13  |  M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University Botanical Garden team has created the lesson plan for inquire winter activity with students aged 10-13 years

What Story Could a Twig Tell?

Overview of Activity/ies:

Working in small groups, the students use a magnifying glass to study shoots cut from trees, noting their structural features and annual rings. In field conditions, they make independent measurements in the course of 3 years of shoots on different species of tree (growing in the Botanic Garden, parks, near their school etc.). They compare the results to identify differences in annual growth rates and discuss how these are related to climate change. During the discussion they identify which trees are most or least affected by changes in climatic conditions. They put forward hypotheses about how future climate change might affect various plants in their immediate surroundings (in the natural environment, in town,  near their school etc.). They conduct thought experiments about how the plants might look if climatic changes are  (1) unfavourable or (2) favourable, and illustrate these with sketches. 

Key Words

Shoot, annual growth, climate change, tip buds, lateral buds, leaf scars, annual rings.

Learning Outcomes: 

Students learn about the morphological features of twig structure, to identify annual rings, to measure annual growth of twigs, to construct hypothesis and to draw up research plans. They draw conclusions from what they observe and make forecasts on the basis of their results. They see in practice that annual growth of shoots on trees varies from year to year depending on growing conditions (humid or dry, warm or cold), and that this is ultimately linked to climate change. The students discuss the possible consequences: how climate change might affect plants growing nearby. They establish what conditions are favourable and unfavourable for plant growth, which trees grow fastest, and which grow more slowly, and whether this is due to their origins (e.g. plants from a cold clime grow faster in the Garden than plants from a warm climate, such as the Caucasus).



Students learn about the structure of shoots (morphology) and where annual rings come from;

They learn to distinguish between twigs of different species of tree, to identify trees in their winter condition (from buds), how to measure annual shoot growth to compare growth in different species of tree over 3 years, building hypotheses to explain these phenomena and their connection with changes to the climate. They draw conclusions and test their hypotheses by analysing their findings.


Make independent measurements, working in small groups;

Learn to spot and compare differences in the structure of shoots (attributes);

Learn how to work with a binocular (stereoscopic microscope) and make drawings of shoots;

Present results in the form of graphs (compile graphs) and compare them. Computer software may be used to create diagrams if the children have those skills.

Social learning and personal development

Learn communication skills by working in small groups;

Learn to think critically and analytically, to articulate thought and construct hypotheses;

Learn to present ideas and evaluate other students’ views;

Conducting thought experiments.

Curriculum content:

Students develop a theoretical knowledge of: the structure of shoots (in botany classes), climate and climatic factors, the direction of light (in nature studies and geography classes), as well as mathematical skills and knowledge (compiling graphs, calculating averages), the ability to work with a magnifying glass and microscope, and to make measurements using a ruler (in nature studies classes). 

Equipment and materials: magnifying glasses (binocular microscope), rulers, compass, winter twigs cut from various species of tree - 6-7 (depending on number of students), fallen tree branches (6-7), field diary.  


Download the Lesson Plan

Expand to view comments | 0 comments


There are no comments. Be the first to comment through the form bellow
Want to comment? You need to sign in or register with INQUIRE


Latest discussions View all discussions

16/10/13 | London

Climate change is happening- The IPCC’s fifth report

IPCC report published in September reveals that, due to human activity, average global temperatures are at their highest for 1400 years. It is already affecting the planet and it's only going to get worse. With the report suffering backlash from still unconvinced critics, how are the public to know what to believe?




Follow us on

Supported by

  Share on Facebook