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Physical Models as an Aid for Teaching Wood Anatomy

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Student activities and instructor-made models are described to facilitate and encourage other instructors to develop their own appropriate activities and models for teaching the three-dimensional structure of wood. The teaching activities include making several annual rings with straws pushed into clay, drawing wood’s structure onto a piece of paper that is folded to resemble a wedge, and assigning students to make an anatomical model to present in class. Plans are given for instructor-made models (1:500 scale) of tracheids, vessel elements, and a hardwood ‘fiber’ to demonstrate their relative dimensions and geometries. These models also include a set of outerwood and corewood tracheids onto which the microfibril angle is traced, and one tracheid on which bordered and cross-field pitting are shown. Plans are then given for a bordered pit pair with its membrane (1:6300 scale). The last model demonstrates the Hagen-Poiseuille equation with an array of 16 conduits that together have the same potential flow as one conduit of two times their diameter. The use of these models has enlivened the classroom and helped students to more readily grasp wood anatomy and function.


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