FireWorks for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Northern Cascades - M07: Fuel Properties: The Campfire Challenge
Course Type: FireWorks activities
Availability: Public access
Author(s): FireWorks Educational Program
  • Ilana L. Abrahamson
    US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program
Date Created: February 14, 2018

Cataloging Information

  • duff
  • fuel arrangement
  • fuel load
  • fuel moisture
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 17, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 25760


Lesson Overview: In this activity, students explore how different properties of fuels affect fire behavior - especially how hard it is to ignite fuels and how long they are likely to burn. Students consider various combinations of fuels (“fuel recipes”), predict how they will burn, then test their hypotheses. Then students demonstrate what they have learned in a speaking and listening activity (“dynamic Socratic circle with a brilliance board”).

Lesson Goal: Increase students’ understanding of properties of wildland fuels and how they affect fire spread and fire duration.


  • Students can arrange specific fuels to build a small campfire that is relatively easy to ignite and can burn for a relatively long time.
  • Students can discuss the ignition and burning of various combinations of fuels in a speaking and listening activity.
  • Students can describe how characteristics of wildland fuels affected an experimental campfire.