Santa Monica Mountains post-Woolsey Fire

Fire Ecology

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Students are introduced to the topic of wildfires through use of an interactive story map. After exploring the natural and human history of wildland fires, students learn about tools scientists and land managers use to understand how fire interacts with a landscape. 

Program Format

Two educators lead each 40- to 60-minute session as presenter and host using a video conference platform such as Zoom. Attending teachers participate as chaperones who observe and assist students as needed. Interactive technology tools may include Prezi, Google Earth, Google Slides, breakout sessions and participant polls.

Session 1: Community Building 40- to 60-minute live session
Students will meet NatureBridge educators and work as a group to establish community norms and guidelines. In small groups and through observation, students will learn about different impacts of fire in an ecosystem and define the term wildfire.  Students will participate in a land acknowledgement of the traditional tribes of Yosemite as well as the students' home communities.

Session 2: Intro to Fire Ecology 40- to 60-minute live session
Students explore the natural/human history and science of wildfires. Students then turn their attention to how land management around fire has changed over the last century, from an era of full wildfire suppression to a more modern approach and a possible return to more natural systems of fire. 

Session 3: Fire Boards 40- to 60-minute live session
Students use this knowledge to make predictions on how a landscape could be affected by fire. After predictions are made, model forests are ignited by NatureBridge staff while students share their observations on the fire behavior and impacts. 


Students will be able to:

  • Explain the natural history of wildland fire on western U.S. landscapes
  • Explain the roles that humans have played in modifying forest landscapes in response to catastrophic wildland fires
  • Describe how fires affect an ecosystem in natural and unnatural ways
  • Analyze and assign fire danger risks using tools and skills designed by fire scientists and land managers
  • Make suggestions on how landscapes can be managed in regard to wildland fires

NGSS Standards

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS2.C; ESS2.A; ESS2.D
  • Practices of Science and Engineering: Developing and Using Models; Planning and Carrying out Investigations; Analyzing and interpreting Data; Constructing explanations and designing solutions;
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect; Systems and Models; Stability and Change

Materials needed

Access to a computer, tablet or other online learning compatible device. Paper and drawing/coloring supplies.

Adult Expectations

At least one teacher will be present throughout each live online session. Other adults may attend by invitation from the teacher or group coordinator. All attending adults must complete NatureBridge’s Participant Registration Form in advance of the session. 

It is the responsibility of attending adults to support student learning and safety during large group instruction and small breakout sessions by following the expectations listed below. 

  • Support students in staying on task. 
  • Address discipline concerns, while allowing students to be engaged and answer questions on their own. 
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude and model inclusive behavior.
  • Communicate with the group’s NatureBridge educator about the educational plan and offer constructive feedback when appropriate.

Schedule this Program

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