Understanding how forest fires start and the effects on the diversity of the forest helps students learn about the importance of fire prevention. From the perspective of the natural world, forest fires can be a good thing, but unnecessary carelessness can lead to great devastation. In this lesson, students will learn about the importance of fire prevention in protecting the diversity of the forest.
Map of the U.S.
Access to computers or a preprinted version of the information at the following link: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/resourcesconed/fe-curriculum/7-72.pdf
1. Ask the students if they know of any big forest fires that happened in the country. Highlight the suggestions on the map.
2. Explain that fires are commonly started by lightning and are part of the natural process of the forest.
3. Ask if they know why fire is a natural part of the ecosystem. Write answers on the board.
4. Distribute the information downloaded from the USDA Fire Ecology Curriculum at the above link.
5. Discuss the implications of naturally started fires started by man.
6. Divide the class into groups of five. Explain that they will research the species count in an area in Arizona.
7. Distribute the pre- and post-controlled burn species count information from the USDA Forest Services website to each group.
8. Give each group a large sheet of chart paper. Have them graph the number of species pre- and post-burn, using a line graph or bar chart.
9. Have students make posters to encourage awareness of forest fires and how they can be good -- or bad -- for the ecosystem depending on the circumstances.
10. Display the posters around the school or classroom.
This lesson is from Josephson Institute's Foundations for Life essay-writing program. For more details on this maxim-based program, visit our website:
This lesson is an adaptation of the USDA Forest Service Southwestern Region Fire Ecology Curriculum that can be accessed at http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/resources/conservation.shtml
Standard 8. Understands the characteristics of ecosystems on the Earth's surface.
Level II Benchmark 2. Knows how humans can change ecosystems (e.g., clearing forests, widening water channels, draining wetlands, wetting or suppressing fires).