Plant for the Planet

Planning—Plant for the Planet

Summary: Despite their youth, elementary students can and do engage in projects that help address the problem of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In this topic guide, students learn about local trees in the schoolyard and how individual trees impact global systems. They then propose a restoration project that involves adding carbon-capturing trees to the system, use iTree Design to calculate the ecological benefits of the trees, and share their findings with others.

Concepts to teach:


  1. Trees provide ecosystem services, including sequestering carbon
  2. Planting trees can provide benefits to the local and global system

Standards: NGSS Performance Expectations

  • 5-LS1-1. Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.
  • 5-ESS3-1.Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

Specific Objectives
Students will be able to:

  1. Identify local trees in their schoolyard
  2. Collect and record diameter at breast height (DBH) of one or more local trees
  3. Assess the impact of an existing or proposed tree on the ecosystem

Activity Links and Resources:

  • Activity: Plant for the Planet—This curriculum includes lessons for students to observe and learn about trees in the schoolyard, and then connect the ecological services of the trees to global issues
    • This video describes how a young boy in Germany has helped plant more than a billion trees to help sequester carbon.
    • Use iTree Design to estimate the benefits of individual trees planted in a local area.


  • Students propose a restoration project that will harness the power of plant photosynthesis to reduce atmospheric carbon levels.
  • What other services does the tree provide that impact the ecosystem?