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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Health

Resource Type

  • Videos, 7 minutes, 33 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, USA - South, Texas, Idaho


YouTube Video

There's Life in Smoke. Here's How We Know.

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  • This video describes recent scientific research confirming that microorganisms can live in smoke, showing a prescribed burn in Latah County, Idaho where researchers are using a science discovered by Sarah Mims of San Antonio, Texas.
  • The video explains how research in this new field of study includes investigating what kinds of microbes are present in smoke (including harmful ones) which can help people understand how smoke from wildfires can affect human health.
  • Mexico is also mentioned in the video. 
Teaching Tips


  • This is a great video to highlight how scientific practices (like asking questions, planning and carrying out investigations, interpreting data, and communicating findings) have real-world applications. 
  • The video can also inspire students because it shows that the findings from one high school student led to the creation of an entirely new scientific field of study.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This video talks a lot about microbes and microorganisms. It may be helpful for students to already have some understanding of microbes (bacteria, fungal spores, protists, viruses). 


  • This video would be a great addition to a health class or a science class about biology, microbiology, or environmental science. 
  • Connections can be made with climate change due to the increasing risk of wildfires, droughts, extreme heat events, and changing precipitation patterns related to global warming and climate change.
  • Advanced students could read the research paper published by Sarah Mims and outline their own scientific paper to research another location where microbes might be living.
  • Similar resources include this video about wildfires and air pollution in Nevada, or this video about the effects of aerosols on humans.
Scientist Notes
The video depicts a new study on how microorganisms exist in smoke, which explains why lung infections and other microbial-related disorders are so common following fires. This is instructive and should be used in the classroom.
  • Science
    • LS1: Structures and Processes
      • MS-LS1-5. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
    • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Within Ecosystems
      • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.6.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
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