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VIC

Subject:

Mathematics

Year level:

Level 6

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 1 - The shape of fire

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 

In this activity, students will explore fire intensity and its impact, watch a video discussing the concept, and engage in group discussions. They'll investigate how wind affects fire shape, introducing the concept of an oval or ellipse, and extend their learning by finding real-world examples of these shapes in various contexts.

Step by step guide

Step 1: Class discussion and supporting questions

Introduce students to the idea of fire intensity (how hot a fire burns) and link this to ‘good fire’ versus ‘bad fire’. Watch Fighting carbon with fire.

Follow with a brief discussion of what factors can make fires more intense (bad fire). Focus on wind in particular. 

Some inquiry-based learning questions to support discussion.

  • If a fire starts from a small point ignition,what shape would a fire make if there was no wind?

  • How would this shape change if there was a wind blowing?

Step 2: Setting the context

Introduce concept of oval or ellipse. Explain to students what will be required for Activity 1 of the handout.

Step 3: Students undertake Mathematical problems

Have students undertake Activity 1 from the handout.

Homework task: find examples of where shapes like ellipses are found in the real world. E.g. the shape of a stadium, cutting a sausage, cucumber or carrot at an angle, shining a torch on the ground at an angle, planets going around the sun, etc. 

Related activities within this resources:

Eucalypt regrowth on tree after Black Saturday bushfires

Activity 2 - Linking fire shape to wind speed

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

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 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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