FireWorks for the Sagebrush Ecosystem - M15: Bark and Soil: Nature's Insulators
Course Type: FireWorks activities
Availability: Public access
Author(s): FireWorks Educational Program
Date Created: 2018

Cataloging Information

  • bark
  • heat transfer
  • soil
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 18, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 25854


Overview: In this activity, students work in groups to explore the use of insulation to slow the transfer of heat through materials. Bark (on trees and shrubs) and soil are two kinds of materials that insulate living things from the heat of fires.

Students simulate nature’s insulation by covering a surface (a model of a tree/shrub or of soil) with quilting materials. They hypothesize about how it will affect temperature changes as they use a hair dryer to simulate the heat of a fire. They record the temperature pattern beneath the insulation as it heats up and cools off, and then graph the data. Finally, they analyze the data and relate it to how bark and soil may help protect trees and shrubs, including their roots and seeds, from fire.

Lesson Goal: To increase students’ understanding of heat transfer and the usefulness of insulation to slow the process and protect trees and shrubs


  • Students will hypothesize about how insulation will affect heat flow.
  • Students will collect data, graph it, and analyze it to describe how insulation affects heat flow.
  • Students will describe how bark and soil can protect living tissues from the heat of fires.