When James Marshall discovered gold in Coloma on that January day in 1848, who would have thought it would have lead to a disaster for California's coast redwood trees? As people flooded in to California, the need for lumber was great as buildings had to quickly be put up for new towns and homes. An average redwood tree is 275 feet tall. There is a lot of good wood to use in building in those trees. Thus, lumberjacks began taking out entire forests of trees. Clear cutting California's forests began and ran unchecked for many years.

Is clear cutting a good practice? When one organism is removed from an environment, usually there are consequences that no one even thought about, kind of like when James Marshall found that piece of gold. Is there a way to harvest redwoods and still preserve the environment?

That is the question for the fourth grade environmental engineers. What happens to an area that is clear cut? Can people get the wood necessary to fulfill their needs if clear cutting isn't done? What unintended consequences occur when clear cutting is the chosen practice of harvesting wood? Is there a better way to get the wood we need, satisfy the financial advantages for the timber industry and preserve the environment? That is the problem for the fourth graders to figure out in this STEM challenge.


The Timber Industry
People who work in the timber industry rely on logging to make money to survive. They have families to support and they need logging. Cutting down the trees brings a great deal of money to the logging companies and boosts the economy of the area.

Environmentalists want the redwoods to stay alive; there’s only about 5% of the original coast redwood left that hasn’t had logging on it. Environmentalists know that organisms all depend on one another and they worry about the consequences of removing too many redwoods.

Tourism and Recreation
People come to California to see coast redwoods. That is the only place they grow naturally. They want to see the beautiful forest and not stumps of trees. Recreation users like to hike and bike in the redwood forests. Kids even go to camp among the redwoods!

Business Owners
When tourists and recreation users come to the redwoods, they spend money on hotels, restaurants and in shops. Business owners rely on the redwood forests to remain in business.

Homeowners in the Area
People who live near redwood forests worry about mudslides destroying their homes and businesses. They want to live among the redwoods, not among stumps and logging roads.

Environmental engineers use science and engineering knowledge to care for, restore and solve problems in a natural environment.

Clear cut


Click here to see the phenomena used in the classroom

Click here to view the links to assist in this challenge

Click here to see the Redwood Forest System Setup photos

Click here to download the Redwood Forest Management Report, #1, if you need it

The Forest Management Teams
The Lorax
The Titans
Wood Hearted
The Redwood Heroes
Amazing Californian Environmentalists
One More Team Needs to Select its Name

 Click here to view the photo gallery for STEM, Spring '22

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