General FAQs

What is the TREE Program?

The TREE program, or the Trans-Canadian Research and Environmental Education program, was a citizen science program done in partnership between the Mistik Askîwin Dendrochronology Laboratory (MAD Lab) and the Canadian Light Source (CLS). Where students collected and sent trembling aspen tree cores, soil samples, and a detailed timeline of environmental events in the area to CLS. Information on the age of the trees as well as a chemical analysis on the tree rings and soil was collected from the labs and this data is added to our citizen science database, where anyone can access, compare, and investigate further. Behind the scenes, members of the Research Team were looking into how trembling aspen thrive in environments across Canada and the samples that were collected by students helped evolve synchrotron dendrochronology research.

The TREE program database and content is well-suited for classes in environmental sciences, chemistry, biology, land-based education, math, etc. and is adaptable from Grades 6-12. Learning content is shared through various teaching resources which includes downloadable modules, and adaptable lesson plans.

Do we have to complete all the modules in the TREE program?

No. The modules were designed to help supplement students’ knowledge when it comes to analyzing the MAD Lab and CLS data. We recommend working through all the modules so that students get a better understanding of the data they are looking at. However, as the teacher, you can pick and adapt content to suit your students and curricular outcomes. 

We are interested in having someone from the Research Team connect with us for a talk and/or help us make sense of the data we are looking at. Would we be able to set something up?

Yes, we would love to connect with your class! We are always looking to engage with students and teachers and love hearing how you incorporated the TREE database into your classroom. We also want to know if there are any areas you had difficulty with and are happy to help support understanding. If you’re interested in us doing a presentation, please fill out our Presentation Form and contact CLS Education either by email (education@lightsource.ca) or by phoning (306) 657-3525. We will do our best to facilitate your classes’ needs and timeframe.

Samples in Database

What data can we look at?

All the data is made available online. You can look at various schools' dendrochronology (tree ring) and synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (XRF) dendrochemistry data as well as synchrotron X-ray fluorescence data from the soil samples and a report summarizing the data. Put another way, you can access information on the presence of elements in the tree rings and soil samples. The data the Research Team uploads is in two forms for teachers to access: graphs (also known as spectra) showing the elements the IDEAS beamline is able to detect (this is XRF) and in raw data forms which are text files that students can pull into spreadsheets to graph (see our Graphing Instruction for info). 

Module 6 covers the data you will can access in more detail and if you have questions, feel free to reach out the to the Education Team at CLS (contact info below).

What happens to the data before it makes it to the database?

The MAD Lab and CLS process and run the samples, a summary report is then created and uploaded. All data is available online in our Data pages of our website. Data is available so that everyone can access and compare samples. You can also access all school’s raw data if you want to take a turn at making graphs.

We encourage teachers to take a look at the graphs and compare chemistry to growth to the environmental history of each sample. What does the data suggest? Can you identify patterns? Are the results what you expected? What do the results even mean? These are the same questions members of the Research Team are asking as they work on the science research aspect of this program. Check out the Section 6.4 page for some ideas and Module 6 for help on how to interpret the data.

How accurate is the data?

Part of the TREE project and the graduate research that is going on behind the scenes is aimed at determining how accurate and quantitative the data collected using the synchrotron techniques is. It is still a work in progress so this data should be considered qualitive and can be used to look for trends of variations that correlate to other identified environmental factors.

Are we allowed to share the data with others?

Absolutely! Sharing information is key to the scientific research of the TREE database. Tell your school about what was learned by your class, tell your community, your local government, anyone who may be interested! Spread the news about the TREE database to family and friends and you could even tag the CLS Education Facebook page (@Education CLS) or the Canadian Light Source X (Twitter) account (@canlightsource). 

Contact CLS Education

Email: education@lightsource.ca

Phone: (306) 657-3525