Christmas Tree Baler – Any Questions?

The push to make the teaching of Math a much more inquisitive process in education, an experience that mimics the real world challenge engineers, scientists, and even everyday “layfolk” come across in dealing with math, has an interesting and creative twist from Dan Meyer. His idea is based around taking a 60 second clip of video, or still image, and then presenting it to your students as though it’s a puzzle. No words are needed, no direction from the teacher, other than “are there any questions?” The idea is to nurture learners’ inborn curiosity and to pose questions without any prompting other than the media they’re presented with.

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m quite smitten with the concept, and although Mr. Meyer often presents his “any questions” videos with a bit more creativity and flare than I have, I’m trying to be as cinematic as I can while capturing questions “in the raw”. So it was with great excitement that my family discovered a new Christmas Tree Farm this past weekend, and I stumbled upon this Christmas Tree Baler (there’s an entire industry behind these machines). Everything about the function of this machine, from the spinning cartridge dispensing baling twine, to the way the tree is pulled through the baler screamed out to me “take video of this!”

Even now, having watched the video at least 3 times, not to mention the actual “live” viewing while getting our Christmas tree, I still have questions pop into my head related to the experience:

  • How many trees can be baled with one full roll of twine?
  • If they sell 700 trees per weekend (I asked), how much twine will they need?
  • How fast is the baler spinning?
  • What’s the ecological impact of harvesting so many trees in such a short time frame?
I’m curious to know, since the idea behind this approach to math instruction is for questions to be asked first, before leading students to the intended goal of the lesson, what questions do you have after watching this video? And would this idea play nicely in a science, social studies, or language arts classroom as well?


    1. I like that one! The wrapping is the mesmerizing part. Also curious about average number of wraps per tree, and what does it cost per tree for twine.

  1. A question I have is what other uses could be extrapolated from this type of machine? Could similar technology be used to bundle carpets, bolts of fabric,etc.? I’d tell my students to get as creative as they want and run with this idea.

  2. Great blog idea it has me wondering a lot as well, what else can we learn about the video. I wish i could of seen the whole machine to know about how much force is needed to pull the tree through that machine ??

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