When kids are little, they love science! After all, at that point it’s all about animals, nature, and the discovery of all things new. But, as they get older, their interest in STEM-related subjects may start to wane. I found this to be especially true when my daughter reached her middle school years. The detailed explanations, extensive experiment logs, and abstract theories seemed daunting and dry. It was also harder to find ideas for projects or lesson plans to add to her homeschool curriculum. For those teaching kids in middle school, UL Xplorlabs offers a fantastic (and free) learning module for teachers and homeschooling parents. It’s called Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence.
Middle School STEM Modules for Classroom or Homeschool
Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence is the second module created by UL Xplorlabs. This is an educational platform designed to encourage students to solve through science. This module teaches the basics of fire, fire dynamics, and fire behavior. Students investigate a fire scene and submit a claim stating the origin and cause of it. And, besides, what kid isn’t intrigued by fire?!
The entire module can be covered in 2-4 sessions. But, there’s plenty of material, including additional experiments, to dive deeper and extend the lessons further. UL Xplorlabs Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence can be used in the classroom or as an independent homeschool unit. Educators will find a teacher guide, a printable student notebook, interactive videos, hands-on activities, quizzes, and more. Parents will be happy to know that the content aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards connecting disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts.
Using UL Xplorlabs Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence
The module is broken up into six different sections. I listed each section below with a brief summary of what information each one covers.
1. Inside the Fire Lab
Watch an introductory video featuring a Director and Fire Protection Engineer from the Firefighter Safety Research Institute, a Fire Protection Engineer, and a Project Engineer from UL. This is a bit slow but gives a good overview of the module.
2. Investigators Academy
Students become familiar with terms such as pyrolysis, thermal plume, and flashover. They also learn characteristics of how a fire starts, what burns, and different factors which affect how a fire burns. Short quizzes in the form of multiple choice, true/false, and matching are sprinkled throughout the section. This is the “meaty” portion of the module. So, expect to spend a good chunk of time exploring the interactive animations here.
3. Live Burns
Watch a video which compares an unventilated room to a ventilated one. Then students can work through the printable Fire Lab Data Analysis.
4. Guided Investigation
Watch an expert investigator as he examines a fire scene. See how he works backward using the scientific method then answer the online quiz to review what you learned.
5. Investigate the Mystery
Students now get to test their skills by conducting their own investigation. They must examine a fire scene, pan and zoom around the room, and collect clues to use as evidence. This part can be tricky to figure out at first but, as you move the cursor around, clickable icons will appear. Add any applicable clues to the notebook for later reference.
6. Accept the Challenge
Using the evidence found in the last section, it’s time to summarize the findings and file a claim. Once completed, the student can print the claim or email it to their teacher. Then, watch the video to see what really happened.
Though you can view the site on mobile devices, you’ll have a MUCH better experience on a desktop computer or laptop. The animations play smoother and it’s easier to navigate the sections. The fire scene investigation part is particularly Flash-heavy. My laptop was working overtime to handle that processing load.
UL Xplorlabs Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence for Middle School Science
I actually found the lessons extremely interesting and learned a lot as I went through them. The interactive videos were fantastic, especially when I took the time to click on the “hotspots.” I didn’t get to go through all the printed information in detail since there’s A LOT. When my daughter gets a break from her homework, I’m going to see if she wants to go through this too.
If you are looking for resources to enrich learning for middle school-aged children, make sure you check out UL Xplorlabs Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence. Not only will you encourage an interest in science or other STEM education, but you and your students will learn a great deal with a fun and engaging unit!
I was compensated to try out the module and share this information with my readers. All opinions are my own.