Electronic Learning

Wildfire Search!
By Gail Skroback Hennessey

Activity: Students use information gained on a "Wildfire Search" to learn the locations of wildfires and the current status of these fires. They use their new knowledge to develop a bulletin board wildfire chart that will guide their further investigations.

  1. As a group, look at your classroom world map or the on-line World Map, cited below.

  2. Talk to your students about this past summer's wildfire season. Last summer was one of the worst wildfire seasons of the past century. Thousands of firefighters and members of the military fought wildfires that burned across more than a million acres in the western United States. This year's wildfire season has extended into the fall. In mid-September, there were 13 new wildfires, from Texas to California.

  3. With your class, visit the Web site of the National Interagency Fire Center, cited below. Click on National Fire News to see a map that indicates the locations of wildfires in the United States.

  4. Divide your class into groups that will each search for information about wildfires in a particular state or group of states.

  5. Using 5" x 7" index cards, have students record the following information about each fire: location, acreage burned, cause of the wildfire, and one other fact about the wildfire.

  6. Once they have this information, challenge students to synthesize. Which fire is the worst in terms of acreage? Which is most contained? Are some states more successful in containing their wildfires than others?

  7. Using the information they have gathered on the index cards, have each student group develop a culminating chart on a 9" x 12" piece of construction paper that displays the facts about the wildfires in their search state.
On-Line Theme Unit

Wildfire Search

Photo: Casey Christie/The Bakersfield Californian/Corbis Sygma






The National Interagency Fire Center

Gail Skroback Hennessey (www.gailhennessey.com) teaches sixth-grade social studies at Harpursville Central Middle School in Harpursville, New York.