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Database Provider




6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, History

Resource Type

  • Videos, 8 minutes, 12 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West


YouTube Video

How Decades of Stopping Forest Fires Made Them Worse

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  • This video provides a historical overview of how we think about (and react to) forest fires, including previous suppression techniques, the mantra of Smokey the Bear, and Indigenous practices that can help correct the decades of fire suppression activities. 
  • It highlights why smaller fires are beneficial for some forest ecosystems and that suppressing all fires immediately is not good policy.
Teaching Tips


  • It shows students that we should continue to learn, listen, and adapt as new information is discovered or observed.
  • The animations are very helpful and engaging.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There are multiple advertisements before and during the video, without the ability to skip them.


  • Younger students may need to watch the video at a slower speed (which can be adjusted in the settings) or use a graphic organizer.
  • Ask students to highlight the advantages/benefits of controlled forest burning in a presentation.
  • As an extension, students can research the fire risk and forest fire management protocols in their area.
  • Science or social studies classes could come up with alternatives to controlled burns that would also reduce the amount of leaf litter, twigs, and fuel in the forest without burning them.  Guiding questions include:
    • Why might this be more beneficial in terms of climate change and air pollution? 
    • What are the risks of a controlled burn becoming a wildfire? 
    • How frequently does this happen?
  • Other resources about this topic include Analyzing the Rise of U.S. Wildfires, this article and interactive resource about feedback loops that increase wildfires, and this art resource.
Scientist Notes
The video highlights the importance of prescribed burns in forests, although it can be devastating if preventive measures are not put in place to curb extreme conditions. Educators should note that whether it is a controlled burn or not, forest fires are carbon sources and are not good for the planet. This resource is insightful, unbiased and recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • 7.LS2.4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
      • HS.LS2.7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • Social Sciences
    • Civics and Government (K-12)
      • HS.11 Analyze and evaluate the methods for challenging, resisting, and changing society in the promotion of equity, justice, and equality.
    • Social Science Analysis (K-12)
      • 8.34 Analyze how a specific problem can manifest itself at local, regional, and global levels over time, identifying its characteristics and causes, and the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.
  • Related Resources


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