Teachers view an image of a large tree cookie, a cross-cut section showing fire history. Photos submitted

Igniting a passion for science

Teachers experiment with Tinker Tree Derby, one of the lessons in the FireWorks curriculum.

Plumas Unified School District science teachers are using a new fire science curriculum to ignite students’ passion for science.

The Sierra Nevada Fireworks curriculum on the science of wildland fire was developed collaboratively by PUSD, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory of the United States Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Plumas National Forest.

While the curriculum for the Sierra Nevada is new, many activities were adapted from the original FireWorks Educational Program, published in 2000.

The new curriculum has been pilot-tested in many science classes and is now available free online at frames.gov/fireworks/curriculum/sierra-nevada.


Many activities require associated materials such as posters, hardware and plant specimens. Digital materials can be downloaded and printed from the website, while other materials are available in FireWorks trunks. Materials have been provided to teachers at PUSD school sites.

FireWorks is a valuable tool to all educators, interpreters and fire prevention specialists. Activities provide students with interactive, hands-on materials to study wildland fire and local ecology. Many of the activities are applicable wherever wildland fires occur; however, many are specialized for the Sierra Nevada.

Rob Wade, PUSD outdoor education coordinator, said about FireWorks, “It has been a great experience working with the team during the past couple of years. They really have transformed this idea into a meaningful, relevant curriculum for our teachers. We couldn’t be more pleased and are excited to integrate FireWorks district-wide this year.”

See the Sierra Nevada FireWorks brochure for more information or contact Rob Wade, rwade@pcoe.k12.ca.us or Ilana Abrahamson, [email protected].