The Future of Forests

In this middle school unit supported by NASA, students engage with online interactives, authentic datasets, and citizen science protocols to construct models and explanations for the unit driving question, "How do landscapes recover after a wildfire?" 

 

Teacher Workshops

We do not have any upcoming workshops. For more information about the curriculum, please refer to the recordings and time stamp documents below from our July 2021 teacher workshop. Also included is the whole group landing page of resources (Padlet) referenced in the recordings.

Future of Forests

Upcoming Events

Teacher Workshop - The Future of Forests (2 days, July 13-14)
- PD Workshop

Bring the NASA-supported "Future of Forests" curriculum into your classroom to explore patterns of landscape change following wildfires.

As wildfires continue to ravage the west, burning more and more of the landscape, many are left wondering, how will these fire-affected forests will r

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Goals Header
Big Ideas

  • Drought-like conditions disrupt the way landscapes recover following a disturbance (e.g., wildfire)

Teaching Materials

The Future of Forests - Unit Resources
Lesson 1: Landscapes on Fire
Lesson 2: From Fire Comes Life
Lesson 3: Succession Survey
Lesson 4: Measuring Soil Moisture From Space
Lesson 5: Landscape Recovery Case Study
Lesson 6: Putting Pieces Together
Lesson 7: Final Model Construction
Lesson 8: Final Explanation
Lesson 9: Citizen Science with GLOBE

Description

Lesson 1: Landscapes on Fire

In this 2-day lesson, students work in pairs to construct initial descriptive models and explanations for the unit driving question, “How do landscapes recover after a wildfire?”

  • Driving Question(s):
    • Why should we care if landscapes recover after a wildfire?
  • What Students Will Do:
    • Develop a model to explain how landscapes recover/change after a disruption (e.g., wildfire)
    • Ask questions that arise from observations of fire-affected landscapes to seek additional information about factors (causes) that might have an effect on the landscape recovery process after a wildfire

Lesson 2: From Fires Comes Life

In this lesson, students create a storyboard and play a modified game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to communicate the process of secondary succession.

  • Driving Question(s): 
    • How do wildfires affect landscapes?
  • What Students Will Do:
    • Identify and communicate landscape recovery patterns (e.g., secondary succession) after a disturbance

Lesson 3: Succession Survey

In this lesson, students will engage with the Landscape Change Monitoring System (LCMS) data explorer tool developed by the USDA Forest Service to evaluate the recovery of fire-affect landscapes.

  • Driving Question(s): 
    • Do all landscapes recover the same way after a fire?
  • What Students Will Do:
    • Analyze and interpret satellite imagery to evaluate recovery patterns of fire-affected landscapes

Lesson 4: Measuring Soil Moisture From Space

In this lesson, students will analyze soil moisture data gathered from NASA satellites to evaluate conditions in their communities. 

  • Driving Question(s): 
    • Why do plants need water?
    • How do scientists measure soil moisture conditions over time?
  • What Students Will Do:
    • Analyze and interpret soil moisture patterns captured by NASA satellites to evaluate the dynamic soil moisture conditions locally and globally

Lesson 5: Landscape Recovery Case Study

In this lesson, students analyze and interpret post-fire tree regeneration data from 1485 sites across 52 fire affected regions of the US Rocky Mountains.

  • Driving Question(s):
    • How has a changing climate impacted post-fire tree regeneration?
  • What Students Will Do:
    • Analyze and interpret post-fire landscape recovery datasets to identify tree regeneration patterns
    • Communicate the relationship between drought (cause) and post-fire tree regeneration (effect) in the northern Rocky Mountains

Lesson 6: Putting Pieces Together

In this lesson, students will work in pairs to construct a written argument supported by citing empirical evidence and scientific reasoning (obtained from previous lessons) that drought has prevented some fire-affected landscapes from recovering to their pre-fire conditions. 

  • Driving Question(s): 
    • In a future where drought-like conditions are expected to persist, which vegetation types (conifer trees, grasses, shrubs) are most likely to regenerate after a wildfire?
  • What Students Will Do: 
    • Reference empirical evidence and scientific reasoning (obtained from previous lessons) to argue that drought conditions (cause) have prevented some fire-affected landscapes (effect) from recovering to their pre-fire conditions

Lesson 7: Final Model Construction

In this lesson, students draw on concepts and evidence acquired during the unit to construct final models for the unit driving question, “How do landscapes recover after a wildfire?”

  • Driving Question(s): 
    • Why do scientists continue to gather evidence and revise models of phenomena?
  • What Students Will Do: 
    • Construct a model to explain how drought conditions (cause) may have an effect on how landscapes recover after a disruption (e.g., wildfire)

Lesson 8: Final Explanation

In this lesson, students work independently to incorporate concepts and evidence acquired during the unit into a written final explanation for the unit driving question, “How do landscapes recover after a wildfire?”

  • Driving Question(s): 
    • Why is science communication important in encouraging evidence-based decision-making?
  • What Students Will Do: 
    • Construct an explanation based on qualitative and quantitative evidence for how drought conditions (cause) may have an effect on how landscapes recover after a disruption (e.g., wildfire)

Lesson 9: Citizen Science With GLOBE

In this lesson, students use NASA’s GLOBE Observer app to engage in citizen science by making land cover observations that are important in helping scientists monitor landscape changes.

  • Driving Question(s): 
    • How can we (the public) help scientists conduct their research?
  • What Students Will Do: 
    • Monitor changing landscape conditions by engaging in citizen science with NASA’s GLOBE Land Cover app.

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