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  • Using the huge 2019 Nelson wildfire as a starter, this Connected article explores wildfires, focussing on:

    • what wildfires are
    • their causes
    • how they affect us
    • how they are affected by the climate.

    Included are scientific explanations of some of the big science ideas and processes, such as climate change, carbon sinks, deforestation, adaptation and feedback loops. It ends with suggestions for ways we can all work together to reduce the risk of wildfires.

    Rights: Crown 2020

    Connected article: Wildfire

    An article in the 2020 level 4 Connected journal ‘Feeling the Heat’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

    Check your school library for the article from the 2020 level 4 Connected journal ‘Feeling the Heat’, download it as a Google slide presentation from Tāhūrangi or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    Rights: Crown 2020

    2020 Connected Level 4: Feeling the Heat

    The cover of the 2020 level 4 Connected journal ‘Feeling the Heat’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles Tūwatawata and the New Zealand Wars, Fostering felines, Foulden Maar: fossils or food? and Wildfires.

    Teacher support material

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi (Word and PDF files available).

    There are three learning activities that support aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum – remember these activities can be adapted to support your students’ interests and learning needs.

    Exploring science

    • Models and feedback loops – students explore what a positive feedback loop is in relation to fire and climate change and some options to take action.
    • Investigating combustion – explore concepts related to this chemical process.

    Explore technology

    • Firefighting tools – students review the information about the fire triangle and share what they know about other major fires in New Zealand and/or overseas.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    The fire triangle

    Oxygen, fuel and heat are needed for fire to occur. This is known as the fire triangle.

    Related content

    Read about research on fire behaviour in the outdoors and how to manage this risk. These articles include the videos Project FuSe and Managing rural fire risk.

    The article What is fire? explores the fire triangle.

    Find out why scientists use models.

    Climate change and deforestation can impact wildfire frequency. To learn more about climate change, we suggest educators start with the interactive Climate change resources – planning pathways.

    Read about the research on the impacts of invasive weeds and introduced plants on wildfires. They’re testing plant species to use as ‘green firebreaks’ – strips of vegetation made up of plants with low flammability.

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Activity ideas

    Use the activity Exploding flour to help your students understand how the surface area of fuel affects fire behaviour.

    Select activities from the Climate Change Learning Programme – Teacher Resource to further students’ understandings of what climate change is and the role of science in both understanding it and learning how to mitigate its effects.

    Useful links

    This Newshub article and video looks back One year on from New Zealand’s largest wildfire in decades.

    These School Journal articles support this Connected article

    Explore some of the concepts related to combustion further in the Building Science Concepts Book 64: Candles: Investigating Combustion.

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 15 June 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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