Module Overview

Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence

module introduction

This module is designed to provide students with the understanding of fire, fire dynamics, and fire behavior so that they can read a fire scene and build a claim for the fire’s location of origin and cause.

The videos and interactive investigations within the Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence module are designed to be applicable in a whole-class or for students to engage with independently. Classroom investigations, including detailed teacher guides and student pages, provide opportunities to deepen student understandings through hands-on experiences with the principles of fire introduced in the module, along with practice building claims from evidence gathered through observations and measurement.


Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence

Age Group

Middle School


Fire Forensics

Completion Time

2-4 Class Periods

what’s in the module?

  • Investigators Academy

    Fire investigator in training! Build an understanding of fire science so you are ready to identify and analyze fire scene evidence to solve a case!

  • Analyze the Burn Data

    The UL Fire Lab burns full-sized structures under different experimental conditions. Check out these two burns, side-by-side, changing only one variable – ventilation. UL fire scientists explain what you can observe in each burn. Following the video, analyze the data from the two different burns.

  • Investigate with an Expert

    Now you’re going to walk through a burn scene with an expert investigator and learn how to build a claim explaining the cause of a fire and where it started. Fire investigators are trained to work backwards using the scientific method to fill in the story by examining the clues left behind. Refine your skills with the expert before setting off on your own investigation.

  • Your First Solo Investigation

    Work your way through the burned structure to seek out every piece of evidence needed to determine the fire’s cause and place of origin. Build your claim for how the fire started by looking through the burn scene for at least four pieces of evidence and add them to your notebook to build your case use your training!

  • Submit Your Claim

    Using the evidence you gathered on your solo investigation, tell the story of what you think happened in the kitchen burn.

Extend the Learning

  • What Happened?

    Once students share their answer to the case, research engineer Dan Madrzykowski will share the origin and cause of the fire so students can match up their answers to see if they were correct! Students can also explore other students’ claims to see how they compare.


    Four investigations support the enduring understanding:

    To investigate a fire, we must understand ignition and combustion principles.  To solve a case, we must understand how to build a claim supported by evidence and reason.

    Each investigation is designed to deepen student understandings and include videos of the experiments for classrooms without the proper lab setup to conduct tests with open flames and smoke. Investigations also include a teacher guide with procedures and relevant background information and student pages including tables to gather data where appropriate.

    All investigations are developed to give students practice in developing claims based on evidence and reasoning and connect to the context of fire investigation. All investigations are correlated to the Next Generation Science Standards middle school benchmarks in physical science. See the teacher’s guide for each investigation for specific alignment to NGSS.

    Most investigations can be completed in 1-3 classroom periods depending on the length of class time and depth to which you explore the tests with your students.

Connections to Next Generation Science Standards

Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence corresponds to the following middle school physical science standards as defined by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

MS-PS1: Matter and its Interactions

MS-PS1-2. Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
MS-PS1-3. Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.

MS-PS3: Energy

MS-PS3-5. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.

Common Core State Standards Connections

RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions (MS-PS1-2),(MS- PS1-3)

RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks (MS-PS3-3), (MS-PS3-4)

RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table). (MS-PS3-1).

WHST.6-8.1 Write arguments focused on discipline content. (MS-PS3-5)

WHST.6-8.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration. (MS-PS3-3), (MS-PS3-4)

RST.6-8.9 Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic. (MS-ETS1-2),(MS-ETS1-3)

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-PS3-1),(MS-PS3-4),(MS-PS3-5)

6.SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context. (MS-PS3-4).