Beacon Unit Plan Library

Wanted Dead or Alive

Jacqueline Roberts
A. D. Harris High School (Bay District Schools)


This is a real-world, problem solving activity of math. In the occupation of forestry land management, decisions that are not based on accurate resource measurements may lead to serious errors, misjudgments or financial losses to the parties involved. This unit will show students how to measure the diameter, height, and volume of a tree in order to predict the merchantability of the tree. Though the focus is math, correlation of science standards dealing with ecology can provide excellent, hands-on, real world activities for high school or middle school students in the life sciences. Please note that only the measurements of length, height, volume, and diameter are taught and assessed in this unit.


How can we determine the value of the timber in a forest?

How can we measure a pine tree, or for that matter, any item that is longer, taller, broader, or deeper than our measuring tools?


The planned duration of this activity is 15 days.

Associated Files

Unit Plan Overview (PDF)     File Extension:  pdf

Diagnotic Assessment (PDF)     File Extension:  pdf

Summative #1 (PDF)     File Extension:  pdf

Summative #2 (PDF)     File Extension:  pdf

Vocabulary (PDF)     File Extension:  pdf

Lesson Plans

Wanted Dead or Alive...How Big Is it?
Students learn to approximate the measurement of a tree using unconventional methods.

Pacing a Gunther Chain
In this activity, students learn to pace a Gunther Chain, which is a unit of measurement used by foresters to determine distance and area.

Measuring the Merchantable Height of a Tree
In this activity, students learn techniques that determine the merchantable height of a tree and the number of logs a tree provides.

Determining Mercantile Volume of a Pine Tree
Students determine timber volumes as sawtimber or pulpwood like a forester would for market purposes.

Web Links

This site includes information about using a hypsometer.
Indirect Measurement with a Hypsometer

This site includes information about the Biltmore Stick.
The Amazing Biltmore Stick

This site details how to make a stick to use in measuring tree height.
Making and Using a Tree Measuring Stick

This site contains valuable information and background in determining the value of a tree for lumber purposes.
How much lumber is in that tree?

This site contains excellent information on measuring trees.
Measurement of a Standing Tree

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