Forest Fire Design

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Forest fire.png

The Forest Fire simulation enables you to explore how forest fires unravel by letting you set fires to virtual forests with different parameters such as:

  • tree density: how dense the forest is
  • fire spreading probability: if a tree is burning, how likely it is for the tree next to it to start burning too -- and in different directions to simulate wind
  • fire die out probability: once a tree is burning, how likely it is for the fire to go out – use to simulate how fast the fire goes out.

The simulation includes Tree agents that can burn down, Ground agents that act as background for trees and have the ability to create forests of different densities, and a Controller, which synchronizes the simulation.


  • Forest Fire Tutorial for building a Forest Fire simulation for use in a Statistics unit (sampling and bivariate data analysis)

Sample Lesson Plans


Open the Forest Fire AgentSheets simulation and try the following:

Using a pre-built forest

Open one of the existing worlds (e.g. Forest -- this forest was built with 50% tree density).

  • Run the simulation
  • Control-click on any healthy tree agent to turn it into a burning tree and start a fire
  • Reset simulation after each run to initialize the experiment

Creating your own forests

Do this if you want to change parameters such as forest density

  • If you there is not one already, add a Controller agent in the current Forest world by selecting the Controller in the Gallery and using the Pencil tool to add a single controller anywhere in the simulation. Alternatively, create a new world with a layer covered with ground and place a Controller agent next to the edge of the forest.
  • Bring up Simulation Properties Editor and change the Desired_Density parameter to some % that you want the forest density to be.
  • Click on the controller agent and the simulation will automatically regenerate the forest (the Ground agents will generate trees according to the forest density parameter you specified).
  • Run the simulation and notice the percentage of trees burnt
  • Repeat experiment for different forest densities and/or fire spreading parameters.

Scripting experiments

You can script forest fire experiments using the scripted version of the forest fire simulation

Computational Thinking Patterns

  • Perceive-Act Synchronization/Parallelization
  • Collision: tree on fire colliding with non-burning tree



  • Original simulation was built by Alexander Repenning.
  • Lesson plans were created by Krista Marshall, Tammy Alexander, and Andri Ioannidou.
  • Forest Fire Tutorial was created by Andri Ioannidou.