Activity Introduction

River heroQuick summary: Students answer the big question ‘How has fire shaped the biodiversity of the tropical savanna?’ In groups, students research a specific ecosystem of the Australian tropical savanna and describe the climate, vegetation, animals and how fire affects the area. Students will complete a research worksheet and present their findings to the class. Students will also build their skills in graphing. 

Learning goals:

  • Students learn about specific ecosystems and regions of Australia. 
  • Students explore how flora and fauna are uniquely adapted to specific ecosystems.
  • Students communicate their findings to the class.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, intercultural understanding.

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 7 Science:  

  • Interactions between organisms can be described in terms of food chains and food webs; human activity can affect these interactions (ACSSU112)
  • Predictable phenomena on Earth, including seasons and eclipses, are caused by the relative positions of the sun, Earth and the moon (ACSSU115)
  • Science and technology contribute to finding solutions to a range of contemporary issues; these solutions may impact on other areas of society and involve ethical considerations (ACSHE120)
  • Science understanding influences the development of practices in areas of human activity such as industry, agriculture and marine and terrestrial resource management (ACSHE121)

Year 8 Science:

  • Scientific knowledge changes as new evidence becomes available, and some scientific discoveries have significantly changed people’s understanding of the world (ACSHE134)
  • Science as a human endeavour, Use and influence of science, Content descriptions: Science and technology contribute to finding solutions to a range of contemporary issues; these solutions may impact on other areas of society and involve ethical considerations (ACSHE135)
  • Science understanding influences the development of practices in areas of human activity such as industry, agriculture and marine and terrestrial resource management (ACSHE136) 

Syllabus outcomesSC4-11PW, SC4-13ES, SC4-15LW, SC4-12ES.

Topic: Cool burning

Time needed: 120 min

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – introduce new content, assist with student research, assess student outcomes.

Resources needed: Internet, digital projector or Smart Board, Cool Burning Digital Toolbox, Info Sheet – Australian tropical savanna.

Digital technology opportunity: Obtain data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/

Assessment: The rubric attached is a method for monitoring students’ learning based on chosen criteria and guidelines.

Rubric – Year 7 – How has fire shaped biodiversity in the tropical savanna?

There’s an app for that: 

  • Google Maps: Explore new places, discover local favourites, and navigate your world with Google Maps.
     
  • Field Guide to Victorian Fauna: Detailed descriptions of animals, distribution maps and endangered species status combine with stunning imagery and sounds to provide a valuable reference that can be used in urban, bush and coastal environments. 

Extension opportunities: Locate major towns in the region where the tropical savanna occur. Find out what industries and human activities occur in and around these towns.

Key words: savanna, tropical, climate, weather, distribution, monsoon, adaptation, vegetation, food chains, food webs, fire, mean, conservation, species

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum. There is great diversity in histories and cultures among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia. This resource includes investigations into and information about some of them. It has an emphasis, but not an exclusive one, on the histories and cultural practices of the Aboriginal peoples of the Northern Territory. It is underpinned by consultation with Aboriginal communities in various parts of Australia. 

Special thanks to:

Fish River Station, John Daly, Dr Jeremy Russell-Smith, Peter Jacklyn, Peter McConchie, Dr Tommy George, David Claudie, Dale Musgrave, Carolyn George and Victor Steffensen.

Made possible by:

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation:

Overarching learning goal: Students discover that Australian tropical savannas cover a large area of northern Australia and that these areas can be divided into regions. They explore how flora and fauna are uniquely adapted to specific ecosystems within those regions. Students also build an understanding of fire being a typical environmental change that occurs in this ecosystem. At the conclusion of this activity students can define what an Australian tropical savanna is.

Teacher content information: Australian tropical savannas cover northern Australia from Western Australia to Queensland. A tropical savanna is an environment covered in grasslands with scattered shrubs and trees. Some savannas are mostly grass while others are heavily wooded. They all have a thick covering of grass. Wetter climate savannas can be covered by rainforest, while savannas in drier climates are usually semi-arid. The major influences on a tropical savanna's ecosystem are the extremes

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Student Worksheet

Thought starters: close your eyes and imagine you are standing in an Australian tropical savanna. What do you see, hear and feel?

Part 1: What is the tropical Australian savanna?

Read the Info Sheet - Australian tropical savanna.

Summarise the key information into the following table.

Plants (flora)

Animals (fauna)

Climate

Other

Based on your key information, answer the big question:

‘How has fire shaped the biodiversity of the tropical savanna?’

 

 

Part 2: Climate activity

Climate is the average annual weather for an area over a long period of time. Data about rainfall, daily temperature change, humidity and wind are recorded day by day - this is what we refer to as 'weather'. The climate is one of the main things that affect the ecology of the tropical savanna.

  January February March April May June July August September October November December Annual

Mean

(mm)

19
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