I absolutely love teaching arson to my high school students, but I often get asked for ideas for middle school students as well. The purpose of today’s blog post is to share one of my favorite digital lab activities for teaching arson. It can be used with both middle and high school students! There’s no dangerous lab equipment, scary chemicals, or a messy lab- just an engaging way for students to learn about the behavior of fire. A few years ago, I stumbled across XPLORLABS: Fire Forensics– a web-based, interactive module designed to provide students with an understanding of fire, fire dynamics, and fire behavior. In today’s blog post I’m sharing Fire Forensics- an Engaging Arson Lab for Middle and High School Forensics Students.
Students begin by visiting this website. (I have a handout that I provide my students that walks them through the site. You can get that handout HERE.) Once at the site, students enter “investigators academy” where they will be trained in the behavior of fire. The website will take them on an interactive tour where they will witness and observe the dynamics of a fire as it burns. Along the way are checkpoints where students can assess their knowledge before moving on.
Learning the Science Behind Fire
In the next module, students watch a live burn. In this observation, students will compare the behavior of fire in a vented room versus an unvented room. Students will make predictions based on graphs and data presented in the module. This part of the lab covers so many NGSS standards for middle school physical science (MS-PS1, MS-PS3).
In the next module, students are taken on a guided investigation where they work with a fire investigator as he investigates a structure fire. Students get insight in to what to look for when investigating a fire.
Armed with the understandings from the previous modules, students venture into their own fire investigation where they are tasked with solving their first fire case. Students are presented with evidence from the fire. Then they must use a CER (claim, evidence, and reasoning) format to solve the case.
Student Answer Document
XPLORLABS has a teacher guide with wonderful ideas for implementing this interactivity into your classroom; but, I decided to create my own packet for my students so that I could tie it in with the information that we have covered in our Arson Unit so far.
To get the packet that I created for this activity, click HERE. I will send it directly to your email.
Whether you teach middle or high school, your students are going to love interacting with this virtual fire lab. My students learned so much from the investigation. It’s definitely an activity that will be a part of my arson unit for years to come.
Thanks for checking out Fire Forensics- an Engaging Arson Lab for Middle and High School Forensics Students. Want to hit the EASY button and get a ready-to-teach arson unit? Check out my complete Arson Unit bundle! It’s got everything you need to teach a comprehensive arson unit to your forensics students.
Until next time…happy teaching!