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Foliage Tracker



  • Science


  • 6-8

Brief Description

Students track leaf changes, input data found at one Web site into another, and then graph foliage changes with a free online tool.


Students will
  • infer based upon given data.
  • input data into a graph.
  • navigate two Web sites simultaneously.


prediction, graphing, fall, leaves, foliage

Materials Needed

  • computer access
  • Internet access

Lesson Plan

Introduce this lesson by discussing the change of leaf colors and the role climate and elevation play in those changes. Then explain to students that they will track leaf changes for five locations, and then determine (infer) when would be the best time to visit those places to see the peak color. (Note: If students do not have a basic understanding of graphing prior to this exercise, you might wish to review it.)

Walk students through the following steps:

  • Open the Internet.
  • Go to Foliage Network .
  • Click Midwest United States on the right side of the page. You should see a Foliage Color Report and a Leaf Drop Report for the Midwestern United States.
  • Discuss what each color on the Foliage Color map represents.
  • Click Back to return to the main report page.
  • Open a new window (File>New Window on most Web browers) and go to Create a Graph.
  • Click Bar Graph in the drop-down menu, select Type of Graph, and click Click Here to Create a Bar Graph.
  • Type the following information:
    • Title of Graph: Foliage Tracker
    • Title of X Axis: Vacation Spots
    • Title of Y Axis: Foliage Color Status
    • Bar 1: Washington D.C. Do not put in a value yet.
    • Bar 2: Great Smokey Mountains, East Tennessee. Do not put in a value yet.)
    • Bar 3: Nashville, Tennessee. Do not put in a value yet.
    • Bar 4: Charlotte, North Carolina. Do not put in a value yet.
  • Go back to the Foliage Network window and click Southeast United States.
  • Find the following locations:
    • Washington D.C.
    • Great Smokey Mountains (East Tennessee)
    • Nashville, Tennessee
    • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Plot on your graph the foliage color for each of those locations.
  • Return to the NCES graph window. For each location in bars 1-4, enter a value for the foliage using the rating system below:
    • Little or no change: Value = 0.
    • Low Color: Value = 1.
    • Moderate Color: Value = 2.
    • High Color: Value = 3.
    • Peak Color: Value = 4.
    • Past Peak: Value = 5.
  • You can change the colors of the bars, or simply leave the default color
  • Type min value = 0 and max value = 6.
  • Click Create Printable Graph.
Discuss with students their graphs, reviewing what the numbers in the Y Axis represent and asking where the best color is right now. If time permits, have students create a second graph. Instead of tracking leaf colors for multiple locations, students can use the archived data at the bottom of each region's report page to record leaf changes for Sept-Nov 2004 or for previous years.


Students will be evaluated on their
  • Observed ability to complete the assignment. (Note: Printed graphs will not be labeled with student names.)
  • Observed ability to navigate the Web and complete other required computer skills.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.5-8.2 Physical Science