Questions for ‘Trees power this alarm system for remote forest fires’

a wildfire in a forest

Once they become blazing infernos, wildfires are easy to spot. The trick to controlling fires is to catch them as they’re just entering a forested area. New tree sensors can do this. And the only energy they need to power them is wind moving through tree branches.

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To accompany “Trees power this alarm system for remote forest fires


Before Reading:

1. Forest fires are a big problem around the world. How do government agencies scout for signs that a fire has ignited in local forests?

2. What are some ways to power electric or electronic devices that have to operate far from an electric wall outlet?

During Reading:

1.  When this new sensor detects a fire, what would it do?

2.  How are most forest fires detected now?

3.  What were the two main challenges that Changyong Cao’s group at Michigan State University faced?

4.  What is static electricity and what causes it to develop?

5.  How would the new system operate, and what’s the role of winds in making it work?

6.  What is the role of a rubber band in the new system?

After Reading:

1.  Clearly, a forest would likely need many of the new sensors to scout for possible fires? How far apart would you place them. (Explain your reasoning.) If millions of acres of U.S. land burn each year, how many of these sensors would you want to see fire services deploy to scout for those fires?

2.  If money to scout for fires is tight (and it always is), where would you deploy the sensors you could afford to buy. (Hint: Where do you think fires are most likely to start?)