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FireWorks Educational Program

fireworks headerFireWorks is an educational program about the science of wildland fire, designed for students in grades 1-12.

Hands on educationVisit the new FireWorks website to access up-to-date information and materials. Content on the new website replaces the original FireWorks curriculum (Smith and McMurray 2000). For information about the original curriculum and materials, contact us.

FireWorks provides students with interactive, hands-on materials to study wildland fire. It is highly interdisciplinary and students learn about properties of matter, chemical and physical processes, ecosystem fluctuations and cycles, habitat and survival, and human interactions with ecosystems. Students using FireWorks ask questions, gather information, analyze and interpret it, and communicate their discoveries.

The FireWorks program consists of a curriculum and a trunk of materials, including laboratory equipment, specimens, and kits of specialized materials for educators. While many of the activities can be used in any ecosystem, many are applicable to specific regions. FireWorks has specialized curricula to learn about:

The curriculum has also been adapted to Colorado ecology (implemented by Colorado Project Learning Tree), and we are drafting a ‘generic’ version for educators to adapt to their specific ecosystems.

Hands on education Educator workshops are offered each year to teach educators, community leaders, and agency communicators how to use FireWorks. Two research projects have shown that FireWorks increases student and adult understanding of wildland fire (see FireWorks: Hands-on Education).

Modified: Jul 18, 2018

Select Publications & Products

Smith, Jane Kapler; Abrahamson, Ilana; and Berkowitz, Caitlyn. 2018. FireWorks curriculum featuring ponderosa, lodgepole, and whitebark pine forests. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).

Abrahamson, Ilana; Smith, Jane Kapler; and Berkowitz, Caitlyn. 2017. FireWorks curriculum featuring lower and upper Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forests. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).

Parkinson, Tamara M.; Force, Jo Ellen; Smith, Jane Kapler. 2003. Hands-on learning: its effectiveness in teaching the public about wildland fire. Journal of Forestry. 101(7):21-26.

Smith, Jane Kapler; McMurray, Nancy E. 2004. FireWorks educational program and its effectiveness. In: Engstrom, R. T.; Galley, K. E. M.; de Groot, W. J., eds. Proceedings of the 22nd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: fire in temperate, boreal, and montane ecosystems; 2001 October 15-18; Kananaskis Village, Alberta, Canada. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 231-235.

Smith, Jane Kapler; McMurray, Nancy E. 2000. FireWorks curriculum featuring ponderosa, lodgepole, and whitebark pine forests. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-65. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 270 p.

Thomas, Linda R.; Walsh, James A.; Smith, Jane Kapler. 2000. Behavioral and Cognitive Evaluation of FireWorks Education Trunk. In: Smith, H. Y., ed. The Bitterroot Ecosystem Management Research Project--what we have learned: symposium proceedings; 1999 May 18-20; Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-17. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 71-73. FireWorks trunks available for loan.