As fire season becomes more common in areas of the United States that aren’t familiar with the threat of wildfires, learning how to fight the danger has become increasingly important. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Project Learning Tree network provides a lesson plan to teach students about how fire-emergency professionals use prescribed fires to control the threat of wildfires. Students will sketch out fire-safety plans, use a digital program that shows how a fire grows, and create catapults that are used for prescribed fires. While Khan Academy shows students how to build an intricate launcher, students can build a simple design that works as well through instructions provided by Scientific American. To be clear, children will neither use, nor set, a fire during this activity. But it might just be the spark they need to engage in engineering!
Engineering principles are only understood through exploring many areas of STEM. If your students enjoy these challenges, try out more engineering activities disguised as architecture activities.