The Deschutes Children’s Forest is proud to share photos and stories from High Desert Museum’s exciting program, Fired Up! Fired Up! is a free program for 5th grade students, in which they learn about the effects of fire, or lack of fire, in ponderosa pine ecosystems. High Desert Museum’s Americorps Volunteer, Danyel, shares her experiences teaching this program.
During each Fired Up! program, I have students that come in thinking all forest fires are bad. After a day of observations and fun hands-on experiments, students gain a better understanding of the importance of fire in Central Oregon ecosystems. Students use tin pans, metal rods, wire, and paper to design fire resistant trees, using Ponderosa Pine trees as a model. Then, they get watch to see if their tree will withstand a surface fire!
Outside, students walk by the recreated 1904 homestead and I prompt students to guess whether the forest around Bend has seen more or less fires since people began to settle in the area permanently. What happens if a fire doesn’t come through to burn away all of
the fuels? Then students compare an area treated with a prescribed burn to an untreated area and learn to identify the positive impacts
of low-intensity fires. Students point out ladder fuels and crowded trees in the untreated site and tell me how low-intensity fires regenerate growth, kill diseases, and reduce fuels. I ask if lighting were to strike right here today, which site would likely have a high-intensity burn.
Time spent in the forest allows students to relate the concepts they learned in the classroom to their environment. Having the children in a natural setting also promotes environmental stewardship towards the forest and other ecosystems they wish to understand and enjoy.
“Thank you for all the fun today. I learned a lot and what I thought was right was wrong! I hope you had fun too. I liked lighting the paper forest and seeing the rings of the tree to learn its story. I loved our trip and being outside. P.S. Fire is very important!”
-Fired Up! Student