Estimating With Fire

Watch the damage from a forest fire in this interactive simulation activity that challenges learners to estimate the burn area using different approaches. Learners are given a worksheet to track the different burn patterns and practice estimating with actual numbers, fractions, and percentages. After the simulation, pass out follow-up questions that explore why we estimate in place of finding the exact answer. Learners will be able to use the tiny forest and the large forest to comprehend why estimating is beneficial for larger populations.  

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CCSS: Adaptable


  • Every burn will be different; engages learners to try new estimates each attempt
  • Give each group a variety of forest sizes and probability percentages to see how estimating varies under different situations
  • Good exploration questions prompt a discussion within group or as a class 

  • Largest and smallest percentages in the activity are less effective as they burn too much or too little to make a real estimate; use percentages in the middle
  • If the answer is incorrect, the activity provides hints to get closer to the answer without actually having to estimate again
Common Core