Community based science projects

The SMART Tree project is a collaboration of diverse interest groups and stake holders to form a unique pilot program. It is designed to engage school students in science and inspire them through practical experiments, focusing on sap flow measurements and their contribution in the fundamentals of plant science.

Any students, from any schools around the world, can access the real time data from our established research sites – for free – to provide themselves with the real time data for science based projects involving Sap Flow, Tree Growth, Soil Moisture and the Weather in that environment. Choose the Project menu above to access the data.

Experiments are simple, teaching experimental protocol and scientific rigour, identifying variables, basic development and testing of hypothesis, result analysis and drawing conclusions. Initial sites were established in the grounds of three schools to compare the water use of different species within the same ecosystem.

All schools are using the same sap flow principle (Heat Ratio Method) making the results immediately compatible and comparable. The theory of hydraulic redistribution cannot only be taught, but the principles observed by students and compared across schools and across countries. The sap flow data is being incorporated into many traditional disciplines such as, biology, maths, physics, and agriculture as well as establishing synergies with less traditional disciplines for a science centric focus. Economics students will use the data for pricing carbon, incorporating the impact tree water use has on carbon sequestration models to improve carbon accounting techniques. Computer science students are writing software Apps to integrate sap flow into their daily lives.

A real world example of a research project being conducted in the Daintree rainforest in far north Queensland, Australia.

School teacher discussing the movement of water in the tree to the class

School teacher discussing the movement of water in the tree to the class

For more information and a list of community projects please visit the “Projects” page.






PLC Sydney, PLC Armidale and The Armidale School are taking part in the SMART Tree Project. The schools each have a solar powered Sap flow meter on a tree in their school. These meters measure plant water use, (sap flow). This data can then be analysed with reference to data obtained on temperature, sunlight, humidity and wind direction.

PLC Sydney has the sap flow meter on a lemon scented gum (Corymbia citriodara). PLC Armidale has 2 trees with sap flow meters, a Ribbon Gum Tree (Eucalyptus viminalis) and the introduced, deciduous Poplar (Populus trichocarpa). The Armidale School monitors Eucalyptus stellulata.

The schools collaborate by sharing data from each of the meters on the trees. Over twelve months of data has been collected.
PLC Sydney Smart Trees Blog
Data files are available from each school’s individual Project page.