Yellowstone Fires

Senior Instructional Designer, NASA Classroom of the Future

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Yellowstone Fires belongs to a series of online modules entitled Exploring the Environment. Emphasizing an integrated approach to environmental earth science through problem-based learning, the module asks students to assume the role of environmental biologist, and help several government agencies resolve the debate surrounding "let it burn" policies in national parks. The government agencies would like to know whether or not to allow naturally occurring fires in Yellowstone National Park to burn to their natural conclusion. The agencies are particularly interested in student recommendations based on an Earth System Science (ESS) analysis of a fire's impact on the air, land, water, and living things. To accomplish this goal, students are given five links to find information pertaining to wildland fire. The "Wildland Fires in Yellowstone" link provides students with a historical overview of past fires in the Park, provides specific information on the 1988 fires, and details fuel and fire management policies within the Park. The "Fire Science" link provides information on combustion, ignition, and fuel, and introduces the concept of the fire triangle. The "Yellowstone National Park" link provides a description of the Park's geology and physical geography. The "Remote Sensing" link provides a general description of remote sensing and a remotely-sensed animation of landscape change in the Park dating from September 1987 to October of 1988. Lastly, the "Wildland Fires" link explains the causes and effects of wildland fires. Many of the pages within the site provide hyperlinked background resources to investigate wildland fire issues in more detail. A glossary, references, related links, and a general description of the problem-based learning model compliment the site.

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Subject: Environmental Science:Sustainability, Natural Hazards:Wildfires, Environmental Science:Policy:Environmental Decision-Making, Biology, Environmental Science:Ecosystems:Ecology
Special Interest: Hazards, Sustainability
Grade Level: High School (9-12), Middle (6-8)
Topics: Biosphere, Human Dimensions/Resources
Theme: Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Public Policy, Hazards, Sustainability, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science