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NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan, 30-60 minutes
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheet
  • Interactive Media
  • Data

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West



Pixels on Fire

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  • In this lesson, students will examine how NASA remotely detects wildfires from space, how they display satellite data about the Earth's climate, and information about three Californian wildfires of the 21st century.
  • Students will engage in a classroom activity that is hands-on and informative, complete a worksheet that gauges their comprehension of the lesson's material, and explore interactive media that provides a deeper understanding of how NASA monitors the Earth's climate.
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson allows students to use their mobile devices productively.
  • The materials in this lesson are easy to obtain.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Internet access is required to administer this lesson.
  • Students must work in groups of 2-4 to complete the lesson.
  • The Eyes on Earth app has changed since the instructions in the resource were written. Explore the tool before guiding students through the activity.


  • To assess prior knowledge, the class can discuss satellites and their purposes.
  • This lesson can fit within a larger unit on human efforts to monitor climate change.
  • This lesson can enhance a classroom discussion on the increased frequency of wildfires in the past 20 years, why this increase is happening, and the impacts of wildfires on the environment.
  • Students in language arts classes can read narratives about those who experienced wildfires.
  • Some students may struggle to hold the mobile device consistently level and at the same height. These students may benefit from a stand, tripod, or other assistance.
Scientist Notes

This resource is from the CLEAN collection. “The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness.”

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 5-ESS2-1 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4-ESS3-2 Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Geometry (K-8)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.A.1 Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale.
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.B.4 Know the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle and use them to solve problems; give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.
    • Measurement & Data (K-5)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.MD.A.3 Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems. For example, find the width of a rectangular room given the area of the flooring and the length, by viewing the area formula as a multiplication equation with an unknown factor.
    • Ratios & Proportional Relationships (6-7)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.RP.A.1 Compute unit rates associated with ratios of fractions, including ratios of lengths, areas and other quantities measured in like or different units. For example, if a person walks 1/2 mile in each 1/4 hour, compute the unit rate as the complex fraction 1/2 / 1/4 miles per hour, equivalently 2 miles per hour.
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