Students in the VPA Chemistry course concluded a project about wildfires this week. For the past 6 weeks, they had been studying the questions, “How are wildfires a part of California’s natural ecology, and what can we do to prevent them?” They designed experiments, learned about what makes a community vulnerable to wildfires, and learned how Climate Change is changing the way we understand and respond to wildfires. Especially in light of recent wildfires here in California, and the devastating bushfires in Australia, this series of lessons has been very poignant for a lot of students.
They concluded this project by watching a documentary, Wilder than Wild, and talking to the documentary filmmaker, Kevin White, and firefighter Lieutenant Charleton Lightfoot from Oakland Fire Department. Students asked lots of really insightful questions, including how “prescribed burns” can be used to literally fight fire with fire, as well as about internship opportunities in the Oakland Fire Department. Most powerfully, students were able to hear these folks’ stories and relate to common experiences around these shared disasters.
If you would like to get involved with fire disaster relief, there is a guide put together by the New York Times to help you find reputable donation and action organizations helping relief efforts in Australia. If you want to support local fire relief here in California, please see this guide put together by Consumer Reports.
Below are some videos students made about their experiments to explain their learning about wildfires.