Biltmore sticks, or cruiser sticks, were developed on the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina in the late 1800’s to measure approximate tree diameter at breast height (DBH) and tree height. The Biltmore stick uses the principle of right triangles and sight lines to convert circumference into diameter for the user. It is a quick and easy way for students and adults to estimate the volume of a tree with a minimal amount of math. With the volume of a tree, students can then calculate timber value or carbon sequestration.
This activity is a great way to engage students in a hands-on lesson in building a tool they can use for environmental science in their schoolyard. Incorporates STEAM and environmental education!
1- Educator background info
2-Student instructions for making and using the Biltmore Sticks
3- Tree Volume calculator chart using tree height and DBH
The wood needed to make the Biltmore Stick. See below for link to buy online, OR use an old yardstick covered in paper/tape.
To buy the wood online, here is an option as of 7/2018 (you'll get two for one since it is 4' long):