Sample Forest Fire Lesson Plans

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Lesson plans for a Sampling and Bivariate Data Analysis unit used at Ft. Lupton Middle School for 8th Grade Math. Developed by Krista Marshall and Tammy Alexander.

Key concepts for Unit

  • Sampling
  • Bivariate Data Analysis
  • Statistical Tools (measures of central tendency)
  • Graphical Representations (scatter plots, line of best fit)

Unit Outline

  • Pre-test (pdf | word doc): material includes creating a scatter plot, drawing line of best fit and finding equation; using equation to make predictions
  • Suggested instruction:
    • Sampling (e.g. Investigation 2.1 & 2.2 from book Samples and Populations (Lappan, Fey, Fitzgerald, Friel, & Phillips, 2006)
    • Bivariate data, scatter plots (e.g. Investigation 4.1 from book (Lappan et al, 2006)
    • Line of Best Fit (e.g. Investigation 4.2 from book (Lappan et al, 2006))
  • Computer Activity:
    • Introduce why simulations are needed (prezi presentation in a zip archive) : doing real statistics - e.g. Global warming (NCAR), virus, forest fires – can’t or shouldn’t do in real life
    • Introduce pre-built or have students build a Forest Fire Simulation to use for data collection
    • Data Collection: Change forest density to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100% and have students collect the percentage of trees burnt for each density, using our sample data collection sheets (Excel spreadsheet | word doc) or your own. Run experiment 5 times for each density. Find average of 5 tries. Each student contributes data points (average of the 5 runs for each density) to the class data collection, which gets plotted. You can use an Excel spreadsheet projected to the class to compile data.
      • At the middle school level, the investigation can focus on sampling (running the simulation multiple times to get an average). For high school level and beyond, students can consider how larger samples will lead to the Central Limit Theorem.
  • Post-test (pdf | word doc): same material as pre-test


Lappan, G., Fey, J. T., Fitzgerald, W. M., Friel, S. N., & Phillips, E. D. (2006). Samples and Populations: Data and Statistics; Teacher's Guide. Boston, Mass.; Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Prentice Hall.