Module Eleven

If Trees Could Talk Modules

Behind the Scenes: Forest and Forest Production Research

Forest Researcher measuring the growth of a pine tree in the lab.


Behind the Scenes: Forest and Forest Product Research examines research conducted to help us utilize forest resources while managing our forestlands in a sustainable manner. Students will learn about key forest research conducted since the early 1900s, as well as key researchers.

Image Caption: Forest Researcher measuring the growth of a pine tree in the lab. (Image courtesy of USDA Forest Service)


  • The student engages in historical analysis and interpretation; hypothesizing the influence of the past.
    (Historical Thinking, Standard: 3J)
  • Students examine economic, social, and cultural developments in contemporary United State.
    (U.S. History - Era 10, Standard 2)
  • The student will utilize visual and mathematical data presented in charts.
    (Historical Comprehension, Standard 2)
  • Social Studies
    • The student will show through specific example how science and technology have changed people's perceptions of the social and natural world, such as in their relationship to the lands, animal life, family life, and economic needs, wants and security
      (Standard 8b: Science, Technology, & Society)




Teacher Preparation:

Download and Print: Module 11 Teacher pages and Student pages PDFs using Adobe Acrobat.

For Day 1 activity: Make copies of the Essay for each student in your classroom. Next make copies of Worksheet 1 and 2 for each student.

Day 2 activity: Make copies of Eloise Gerry, Carlos Bates, Bruce Zobel, Malcolm Furniss, Jerry Franklin, and Kent Kirk biography pages for each student in the class. Make 6 copies of Worksheet 3 for each group or individual student (depending on how you would like to do the activity).

Assessment Prep: Make copies of the Assessment you have chosen to use.


Class Extensions

Arrange a field trip to visit a research station near you to view current research, participate in hands-on activities, etc.

Invite a Forest Researcher into your classroom to discuss their job and current research activities being conducted in your area.

Team Teaching Possibilities

Technology: Create graphs from survey data collect in Assessment 3.

English: Complete Worksheet 1. Or discuss what a biography is and teach students how to be a biographer. Discuss with the students what kinds of information are needed to have a complete biography: name or names, place and date of birth, family, places lived, hobbies, occupations, significant incidents in his/her life, and what made him/her famous. Use examples from Activity 2 to help in this discussion. Possibly have students use these questions to become a biographer (in groups or individually), by writing a biography on other teachers in the school or on a parent/grandparent at home.

Math: Have students go to or call a local Recycling Center and find information to answer the following questions. How many aluminum cans need to be recycled to power a TV for an hour? How many hours are there in a year? With these two figures determine the number of aluminum cans needed to be recycled in order to power a TV for a year. You could contact the local recycling center or electric company to find out enough facts to create a worksheet with numerous questions based on discovered facts. Determining the number of cans needed to run the lights in the school for day, the number of pieces of paper or pounds of paper needed to be recycled to create a new ream of recycled paper, etc.

Science: Look into research projects currently underway today at the Forest Products Laboratory’s Research in Progress.

Create your own research project such as, creating a compost pile with your students in the fall and planting a small schoolyard garden in the spring. You could use compost on half of the garden and potting soil on the other half. Then see which part of the garden does better. Some places to look for information on composting: EPA, Pennsylvania EPA Composting Project, and Journey to Forever’s School Composting. Outdoor Happens explains the different composting methods in “The Beginner’s Guide to Composting.”


Aldrich, Mark. “From Forest Conservation to Market Preservation: Invention and Diffusion of Wood-Preserving Technology, 1880-1939.” Technology and Culture 47, no. 2 (April 1, 2006): 311-340.

Zerbe, John & Green, Phyllis. “Extending the Forest Resource: 90 Years of Progress at the Forest Products Laboratory.” Forest History Today, (Fall 1999):9-14.

Federal Water Pollution Control Act (1948) (viewed 6/28, 2007) (House Report no. 1829, to accompany Senate Bill 418, 80th Congress, 2d session, April 28, 1948)

Ice, George G. and Stednick, John D. “Forest Watershed Research in the United States.Forest History Today, Spring/Fall 2004.

Forest Products Laboratory, “Environmental Technologies” (viewed 7/2/07).

Recycled Paper, “Enzyme Treatment Information” (viewed 7/6/07)

Bormett, David, Carl Houtman, Said Abubakr, and Joseph Peng, “Compatibility of Pressure Sensitive Adhesives With Recycling Unit Operations.” AIChE Symposium Series No. 322, Vol. 95, 1999. (viewed 7/6/07)

Davis , Christopher, “UF – Developed Paper Recycling Method Could Benefit Forests, Industry,” University of Florida News, July 28, 2000, (viewed 7/11/07)

West, Terry. “Research in the USDA Forest Service: A Historians’ View.” Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, History Unit, 1990.

Coleman, Donald G. “Eloise Gerry – Forest Products Laboratory (A Retirement Profile)” Wisconsin Academy Review, Vol. 2 (Spring 1955): 26-28. (viewed 7/17/07)

Miller, Regis B. Xylaria at the Forest Products Laboratory Past, Present, and Future, 1999.  (viewed 7/17/07)

Havlick, David, “Dr. Eloise Gerry, Scientist-Author-Teacher,” Forest History Society website, 2004.


Forest History Society bibliographic resources on forest product research and environmental history, short biographical articles about individual scientists. offers suggestions and ideas for teachers to get there students involved in recycling efforts.

Paper Recycling Fact Sheet shares facts about the amount of paper consumed by Americans from the University of Southern Indiana.

USDA Forest Service’s “Recycle with Woodsy” Contains various activities for students to learn more about forests and forest research.

Wisconsin’s LEAF Lesson PlanK-12 Forestry Lesson Guide.