The Impact of Wildfires
In this activity, wildfires and how much area they burn serve as a phenomenon to guide student inquiry, which includes evaluating data and developing scientific claims.
Students first view a news video, then work both independently and in groups to interpret and evaluate evidence from scientific figures. They also apply the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) approach to explain changes in the area burned by wildfires over time.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret scientific figures, such as graphs and maps.
- Evaluate various lines of evidence for which factors influence wildfire dynamics.
- Develop scientific claims supported by evidence and reasoning for why recent wildfires are burning more forest area.
claim-evidence-reasoning (CER), climate, fire suppression, land management, megafire, rain, vegetation, wildland-urban interface (WUI)
Holden, Zachary, Alan Swanson, Charles H. Luce, W. Matt Jolly, Marco Maneta, Jared W. Oyler, Dyer A. Warren, et al. 2018. “Decreasing fire season precipitation increased recent western US forest wildfire activity.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, 36: E8349–E8357. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1802316115.
Radeloff, Volker C., David P. Helmers, H. Anu Kramer, Miranda H. Mockrin, Patricia M. Alexandre, Avi Bar-Massada, Van Butsic, et al. 2018. “Rapid growth of the US wildland-urban interface raises wildfire risk.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, 13: 3314–3319. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1718850115.
Safford, Hugh D., Jens T. Stevens, Kyle Merriam, Marc D. Meyer, and Andrew M. Latimer. 2012. “Fuel treatment effectiveness in California yellow pine and mixed conifer forests.” Forest Ecology and Management 274, 15: 17–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2012.02.013.
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Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-6; SEP4, SEP6, SEP7
AP Biology 2019
SYI-2.B, SYI-2.C; SP3, SP5, SP6
IB Biology 2016
AP Environmental Science 2020
Topic(s): 2.5, 5.10, 5.17, 9.5
Learning Objectives & Practices:
ERT-2.G, EIN-2.M, STB-1.G; SP1, SP2, SP5
IB Environmental Systems and Societies 2017
Common Core 2010
ELA.RST.9–12.1, ELA.RST.9–11.2, ELA.RST.9–12.8, ELA.RST.11–12.9
Vision and Change 2009
CC5; DP1, DP6