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Measuring the height of a tree

Discover how to measure the height of a tree using a pencil. This activity is proposed as part of the “Vive nos arbres” project, aimed at promoting the heritage of Geneva’s trees.

Mesurer un arbre

There is a simple means of measuring the height of a tree: the measurement is taken at a distance using a pencil or piece of wood.

This activity can be enjoyed in pairs or groups and allows you to measure the approximate height of a tree without having to climb to the top.

To being the activity, choose a lone tree away from the traffic.


approx. 20 minutes


  • a pencil
  • a tape measure if required


Choose a lone tree on flat land and ask your partner to stand at its foot. Walk away from the tree until you can see it in its entirety.

Hold your pencil with your arm outstretched. Move you thumb along the pencil to mark the height of your partner. Keep your thumb in the same place on the pencil throughout the exercise. Now move your outstretched arm towards the top of the tree, counting the number of times your partner’s height fits into the height of the tree.

Multiply your partner’s height by this number. For example, your partner is 1.5 m tall and you counted that they fit into the height of the tree five times. The tree is therefore 5 x 1.5 m, or 7.5 m high.

To prolong the experience

Renew the experience with different trees. Compare the results obtained by different participants.

Did you know?

The maximum height a tree can reach varies according to the species. The tallest living tree in the world is a Californian redwood, which is approximately 120 metres high. It is about 600 years old.


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Article modifié le 27.02.2020 à 08:33