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Escape! Because Accidents Happen -- Fire

Ideas from Teachers


(K-12)
We have a four-year fire technology program at California State University, Los Angeles, and are looking for teachers to invite fire students into their classroom to make fire/safety presentations. This could be planned in conjunction with NOVA's "Fire" program.

The presentor/s would be graded by the teacher and students receiving the presentation.

Teachers interested can contact Chief Ray Shackelford at (323) 343-4543.

Sent in by
Ray Shackelford
California State University
Los Angeles, CA


(Gr. 5)
I loved NOVA's "Fire" program. The history shown was on track with the American History that my students are studying this year. I plan to show this program and tie it in with our American History and Benjamin Franklin, who started the volunteer fire in Philadelphia.

I can just see my students watching and reacting to the information and drama. Fire has had a very definite place in our history. I also plan to have my students do some Internet research on how fires have changed lives and history.

I also plan to have them make posters illustrating their research finds and display them in the hall. Our school Fire Patrol members can also share their duties and why they are important. Every school has a fire safety plan that involves every member of our school. I also plan to try to get the Fire Department to visit with their truck and equipment and demonstrate the equipment. Last year my 5th graders got to handle, with the help of firemen, a fire hose that was fixed over a hill.

Sent in by
Sharon Simon
Davis Creek Elementary
Barboursville, WV


(Gr. 5-12)
I use NOVA's "Escape: Car Crash" program in teaching School Bus Safety to Grades 5-12. I use different portions in my 20-minute classes. I begin with the crash in Germany and instantly have the attention of all, especially the boys, who are my biggest challenge to keep on track.

I challenge each class to petition their legislators for changes in seatbelt laws for school buses. In addition, I use the fact about the accidental invention of safety glass to challenge students to believe that they also could change their world for generations to come.

Sent in by
Janice Veit
Nay Ah Shing Schools
Onamia, MN


(Gr. 7-8)
I have already dealt with forces and motion in my physical science classes, but NOVA's "Car Crash" program and "Plane Crash" program would have come in handy.

I usually do a rocket unit involving water rockets made from 2 liter soda bottles, to involve the students in learning the laws of motion, and the forces acting on moving objects. One of the projects I do involves challenging the students to attach an egg to their rockets in any way they can manage, and package the egg in such a way that when the rocket lands, hitting the ground, the egg does not break. Successful designs often include a hard inner cocoon surrounded by a "crumple zone" material, much like the crash-safe cars designed in the program. Other methods used to prevent the egg from breaking on its long fall back to earth are to attach parachutes to the rocket. The plane crash program would be an excellent tie-in here, with its discussion of parachutes.

Sent in by
Peter Armstrong
Salk School of Science
New York, NY


(Gr. 7-8)
NOVA's "Abandon Ship" program has made me think of a possible experiment to try with the students the next time I cover the topic of buoyancy and forces in fluids. If I can find a small object that would float, (such as a clothes pin, or human-shaped piece of Styrofoam?) it would act as a model for a human being trying to float on the open ocean. I could challenge my students to attempt to create a "life jacket" for the "person" which would keep him "alive" (floating face up, with the head out of the water, hopefully, protected from oncoming waves).

Their solutions would have to keep the clothespin (or whatever kind of object is chosen) always "face up", never face down, and hopefully, weighted so that the object floats at an angle. Their solutions could be tested in tanks of water; perhaps even shaken somewhat to provide some wave action to make it more real. After the students have a chance to try their ideas, the program could be shown to show them how scientists did finally solve the problem.

Sent in by
Peter Armstrong
Salk School of Science
New York, NY


(Gr. 7-8)
I have already dealt with forces and motion in my physical science classes, but the Accidents video on Car Crashes and Plane Crashes would have come in handy.

I usually do a Rocket unit involving water rockets made from 2 liter soda bottles, to involve the students in learning the laws of motion, and the forces acting on moving objects. One of the projects I do involves challenging the students to attach an egg to their rockets in any way they can manage, and package the egg in such a way that when the rocket lands, hitting the ground, the egg does not break. Successful designs often include a hard inner cocoon surrounded by a "crumple zone" material, much like the crash-safe cars designed in the video. Other methods used to prevent the egg from breaking on its long fall back to earth are to attach parachutes to the rocket. The plane crash video would be an excellent tie-in here, with its discussion of parachutes.

Sent in by
Peter Armstrong
Salk School of Science
New York, NY


(Gr. 8)
NOVA's "Fire" program would work well as an enrichment activity for states of matter or chemical reactions. Especially good are the segments that develop the concept of fire as a chemical/physical substance.

Generally, I can see application of the entire program—however, at 60 minutes it is too long for a single showing in my 40-minute class periods. I would spread the segments over several days for better impact, as well as allowing for lesson development and lots of student inquiry. I'm thinking of states of matter as fire consumes solids to create liquids and gases (might even be able to work plasma in there). Another good segment is when the architect describes how a building could be made more fireproof by adding a perpendicular extension to force the flames away from the building.

Sent in by
Wayne French
Lindsay Middle School
Hampton, VA


(Gr. 8)
I do an activity each Fall to have the kids design a parachute for Santa. This activity could be used with NOVA's "Plane Crash" program.

Materials

  • plastic paint drop cloth
  • thread
  • A picture of Santa glued to a large paper clip

The winner has a parachute with a minimal amount of weight and the longest time of descent. I have dropped the parachute from a measured height from a ladder and by standing on a lab table.

Another activity: Before watching the program have the kids list the things that need to be concerned with in a "gentle" air crash and discuss, such flying luggage, break away seats, getting out and opening the doors. There are good ties here to Newton's Laws.

Sent in by
Dale Rosene
Marshall Middle School
Marshall, MI


(Gr. 9-12)
Joe Kittinger's "high dive" from the stratosphere in 1960 as featured in NOVA's "Plane Crash" program contained an interesting concept worthy of classroom investigation. His "terminal velocity" was many times greater at high altitude than what we might consider "usual" for a human body accelerating toward the ground.

Questions for discussion, analysis, and prediction:

  1. What possible correlation might exist between "terminal velocity" and altitude?

  2. If we were to graph the "instantaneous velocity" of a human falling from 30,000 meters, how might we state its mathematical characteristics?

  3. In what ways does the formula d = 1/2 gt2 become "altitude dependent"?

Experimentation:

  1. Design and construct a "tower" of at least 50 centimeters which can be filled with water. Marbles can be dropped through the water and timed (t) for their passage through what might be called a "speed trap" (d). Compare the time necessary to traverse the distance with a drop of a marble over the same distance in air. First, you might wish to predict mathematically what the time will be. Is it possible to state viscosity (fluid density) in terms of d=1/2gt2?

  2. What might happen to the time (t) component if the water is cooled from room temperature to 4 degrees above freezing, at which temperature it is at its most dense? Additionally, what will occur if the water is heated to 120 degrees? What generalizations may we make from this simple experiment?

Extended exploration: Hypothesize for a moment that the viscosity of a fluid (like air or water) is analogous to gravity. In our model, like the fall of a body from high altitude, the closer to the ground one comes, the more viscous (dense) the fluid through which he falls.

Question: As an astronaut falls into a "black hole," will his velocity slow as he nears the singularity, as Joe Kittinger's body would have slowed if he had continued to "free fall" toward the desert?

Sent in by
Steven Branting
Jenifer Junior High School
Lewiston, ID


(Gr. 10-12)
We just finished NOVA's "Car Crash" program in physics. We invited an insurance agent-adjuster to class. We took a field trip out to the parking lot and did some math calculations on the cars (angle of impact, speed at impact...) and a few others. Then, using the student sticker (to track down the car's owner) we asked some of the students who owned the car to tell us about the accident. The kids (with the adjuster's help) were 12 for 12, and the angle and speeds were really close. The students really thought this was an excellent program.

Sent in by
Shannon C'de Baca
Thomas Jefferson High School
Council Bluffs, IA


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Escape! Because Accidents Happen -- Fire
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