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Home/Curriculum resources/Mathematics in nature: understanding bushfire/Activity 2 - Linking fire shape to wind speed

Subject:

Mathematics

Year level:

Level 6

Suggested timing:

20-30 minutes for students to work on assigned problems and 15 minute follow-up discussion.

Required resources:

Handout

Eucalypt regrowth on tree after Black Saturday bushfires

Activity 2 - Linking fire shape to wind speed

This activity is a part of the Mathematics in nature: understanding bushfire resource.

Eucalypt regrowth after Black Saturday bushfires. Photographer: Robert Kerton. Source: Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY 3.0 

This builds on Activity 1 The shape of fire and the concept that wind-driven fires have a roughly elliptical shape.

Step by step guide

  1. Students refer to the handout showing elliptical fire shapes of various dimensions and are required to decide which shapes correspond to fires burning under strong winds or light winds. Which fire shapes correspond to the most intense fires? 

  2. Students are introduced to the concept of length-to-breadth ratio (L/B) of an ellipse and are required to measure the length and breadth of a number of ellipses, and convert them to length-to-breadth ratios using decimal representation. 

  3. Introduce the relationship between L/B and wind speed via the graphical handout and get students to assign wind speeds to the elliptical shapes previously considered.

Related activities within this resources:

Eucalypt regrowth on tree after Black Saturday bushfires

Activity 1 - The shape of fire

In this activity, students explore fire intensity, its impact, and the role of wind in shaping fires through video, group discussions, and real-world examples.

Suggested timing:

20-25 minute class discussion (including 5-minute video), followed by 10 minutes looking at handout and group discussion of the questions

Required resources:

Handout

Eucalypt regrowth on tree after Black Saturday bushfires

Activity 3 - Fire spreading on hills

Building off activities 1 and 2, students will explore the concept of fire spread on hills.

Suggested timing:

15-20 minute session to outline concepts and a 30 minute session for students to work on assigned problems.

Required resources:

Handout

Eucalypt regrowth on tree after Black Saturday bushfires

Activity 4 - Fire area

Building off activities 1 to 3, students will explore fire area measurement in hectares, relating it to familiar concepts like the size of a football field.

Suggested timing:

15-20 minute session to outline concepts and a 20 minute session for students to work on assigned problems

Required resources:

Handout

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