Last year, I took my kids to the burn zone. Once, before the fire. And once, a week after the fire. There was devastation after the fire. The mountainside was covered with burned trees, plants, and cacti. We got very dirty and ashy that day.
This year, I am still focusing on the Arizona State Science Standards of Weathering and Erosion. It's hard not to, when you have the state breathing down your neck to raise test scores. But, I am also in a grant program for Science teachers. I thought I would use my Weathering and Erosion unit for the program and kill two birds with one stone. Then, I heard about the Disney Planet Challenge. We selected the fire as our environmental problem that we want to try to fix. So now, the Weathering and Erosion unit is for three purposes!
I didn't have ancillary yesterday (to be honest, I didn't get a break ALL DAY as I also had recess duty), so instead of sit around the classroom, we would investigate the burn zone. A co-worker told me that we had student digital cameras. When I inquired in the office about the cameras, they told me the cameras had never been used! Brand new! A whole class set!
I did a short lesson on how to use digital cameras and how to frame a picture. The cameras are not the highest quality and they don't have auto-focus. So, I taught them about shooting too close or too far away. We went to the playground and took preliminary photos to talk about the focus and lighting. And then....we hit the burn zone. The fire was a little over a mile away from school. All twenty-five of the students stuck with me (no adults would go with me) and were very respectful.
We noticed a lot of new life once we hit the burn zone. There were cactus growing on top of dead cactus. Trees that appeared dead, now had green leaves.
The kids had a heyday, running around and spotting all the life; which included about a dozen horny toads. We also spotted a rabbit run by and many butterflies. New Life.
They found a lighter and hypothesized that it might have started the fire.