Big Idea

In this lesson, we are going to explore wildfires and how they affect our world. First, we’ll unravel the mysteries of how these blazes spark to life. Next, we’ll connect the dots between our planet’s changing climate and the intensity of these fires. Finally, we’ll uncover ways we can step up to safeguard our precious forests. Get ready to journey through the fiery yet vital topic of wildfires and our role in protecting the earth’s green lungs!

Take Action

In the ‘Take Action’ section of this lesson, we will construct a simulated wildfire detection vehicle to ensure the safety of our forests and communities. The vehicle will look for increased sound and light levels as it patrols an area.

Learning Goals

Students will…

  • Describe the causes and effects of wildfires
  • Explain the role of climate change in increasing wildfire incidents
  • List the various technologies used for wildfire detection
  • Create a wildfire detection vehicle that uses nested loops and compound conditionals to make a light- and sound-sensitive alert system


Per 1-3 students:

  • Climate Action Kit or Smart Vehicle Kit
  • micro:bit
  • Computer with access to Microsoft MakeCode
  • Flashlight

Get to Know the Content

  1. Make sure you’ve completed our ‘Getting Started with the Climate Action Kit’ course
  2. If it has been awhile, review the kit components featured in this lesson:
  3. Review the lesson

Big Idea (45 minutes)

Learn about how climate change is increasing wildfire incidents.

Students will:

  1. Describe the different types of wildfires
  2. Explain how wildfires start
  3. Learn different ways we can control wildfires

Take Action (45 minutes)

Learn about technology used to control wildfires and build your own wildfire detection vehicle with the Climate Action Kit! The vehicle will patrol an area. If it detects unusually high light or sound levels, it will send out a fire alert!

We’ve provided 3 ways students may build the project to support scaffolding and differentiation in your classroom: ‘Use’, ‘Modify’, and ‘Create’.*

UseStudents will follow a step-by-step tutorial to build & use their wildfire detection vehicle. They will test out key features like how the vehicle starts, stops, and sends out alerts.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a wildfire detection vehicle with the Climate Action Kit
– start and stop the wildfire detection vehicle
– use the micro:bit’s light sensor to detect bright lights

Final Code
ModifyStudents will follow a step-by-step tutorial to build their wildfire detection vehicle. After this, they will modify the code to learn how it functions and improve the accuracy of the alarm system.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a wildfire detection vehicle with the Climate Action Kit
– explain how the conditional statements in the starter code make my car start and stop
– improve the accuracy of my fire detection vehicle by using a compound conditional statement that looks at data from two sensors
– use a nested loop to improve my fire alert

Final Code
CreateStudents will work in small groups to design their own wildfire detection vehicle prototype with the Climate Action Kit.

Success Criteria
I can build a wildfire detection vehicle with the Climate Action Kit that uses at least two conditional statements to:

– start
– stop
– patrol an area
– send out a fire alert
– avoid the fire

Blank Project

*Irene Lee, Fred Martin, Jill Denner, Bob Coulter, Walter Allan, Jeri Erickson, Joyce Malyn-Smith, and Linda Werner. 2011. Computational thinking for youth in practice. Acm Inroads 2, 1 (2011), 32–37.

Use the following criteria to assess student learning. Students can:


  • Discuss the causes of wildfires and suggest preventative measures
  • Explain how climate change contributes to increased wildfire incidents
  • Describe the main functions of a wildfire detection vehicle (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Explain how the nested conditional statements in the starter code allow the car to move, stop, and trigger a fire alert (Use, Modify, Create)


  • Make predictions about what certain segments of the code are responsible for and test those predictions (Use, Modify)
  • Methodically test and debug their code to ensure it functions as intended (Modify, Create)


  • Add comments to the code to demonstrate their understanding of each block (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Write a compound conditional to improve the accuracy of our fire detection system (Modify, Create)
  • Use a nested loop to improve the alarm feature (Modify, Create)
  • Design their own wildfire detection vehicle that satisfies provided criteria (Create)