The Matchstick Forest Brings Wildfire to the Classroom.

Imagine standing over a forest, looking at the green trees and brown earth below you, when a sharp lightning bolt hits one of the trees.  A small whiff of smoke curls into the air right before a flame appears, bending ever so slightly and igniting the next tree upslope.  It quickly spreads to more trees.  A tiny breeze fans the flames, and in a moment, the whole forest is on fire, sending heat and smoke into the air. 

Now picture this.  A group of students is huddled around a classroom table.  On the table is a blackened cookie sheet where a long bolt holds a brown piece of high density fiber board at an angle.  Forty-nine green tipped matchsticks stand in small holes specially drilled for this purpose.  A lighter flickers and one of the matches catches fire.  The flame bends upwards, igniting the next match upslope.  Soon all 49 matches are aflame.  This may not sound like a forest to you, but the Matchstick Forest helps students envision what the first paragraph described.

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