Initial Publication Date: October 23, 2017 | Reviewed: March 13, 2019

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Educator Guide: Lab 2 - Humpty Dumpty and Drought in the Hudson Valley, NY

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Summary and Learning Objectives

In Lab 2, students go on a virtual expedition to study drought in the Hudson Valley using the same tools and analysis procedures as tree-ring scientists. They explore the Humpty Dumpty talus slope site in Google Maps and learn about the importance of picking study sites where the ecology of the site shows that the trees will be sensitive to climate. Students learn to evaluate patterns in tree-ring records by observing and comparing core samples, and use Climate Explorer, a powerful online tool, to map and evaluate recorded meteorological data. They confirm that tree-rings are recording climate information by comparing their analysis of tree-ring data and observations of 'marker years' from the core samples to the recorded data from Climate Explorer for the same year.

Note: Please download the Student Activity Sheet (pdf or Word version) found in the Printable Materials section of this document if you wish to have students respond to Stop and Think questions as they go through the lab.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lab, students will be able to:

  • describe the nature of dendrochronology and why it is important.
  • explain why it is important to understand the ecological conditions of a site.
  • observe and record ring patters in digital samples and compare tree-ring growth to climate records.
  • describe how the analysis of tree-ring data can be used to describe changes in past climatic conditions.

  • Activity Overview and Teaching Materials

    Detailed overview of what students will do in each part of the lab and how long it will take.

    Printable Materials

    Download and print files needed for each part of the lab, including student handouts and answer keys.

    Teaching Notes and Tips

    What you need to prepare ahead of time, and general recommendations for classroom implementation.


    There are several options for assessment of student understanding of material introduced in this lab. Choose from the following list, or create your own assessments.

    References and Additional Resources