Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students use a fire mapping website to develop an understanding about how burning and seasonal rainfall are related. They use the same web tools as land managers who use this data to assess fire risks and applying for registration for carbon credits.

Learning goals:

  • Students use graphs and data to determine trends.
  • Students discover the influence humans have over landscapes.

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

Australian Curriculum content description:

Year 8 Geography: 

  • The aesthetic, cultural and spiritual value of landscapes and landforms for people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (ACHGK049)
  • The human causes and effects of landscape degradation (ACHGK051)
  • The ways of protecting significant landscapes (ACHGK052)

Syllabus OutcomesGE4-1, GE4-4, GE4-2, GE4-3, GE4-5

Time needed: 60 min

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – students will need to become familiar with how the website functions and the colour coding of the maps representing the months in which fires occur.

Resources needed: Internet, printer.

Digital technology opportunity: Digital mapping is updated several times a day as satellites pass over northern Australia. During the fire season they can track fires. Northern Australians are using the website to monitor fires and fire history to reduce destructive hot burns.

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

Rubric – Years 7&8 – Fire mapping

There’s an app for that: Google Maps: Explore new places, discover local favourites, and navigate your world with Google Maps.

Extension opportunities: Use the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s website to explore more seasonal rainfalls. You can use the select using maps function to select locations. The data can be displayed as graphs.   

Key words: fire scars, hotspots, charts, graphs, emissions

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:







Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students use online mapping to learn how people in northern Australia are using the website to monitor fires and access fire history to reduce destructive hot burns.

Teacher content information: There has been over a decade of research into the fires of northern Australia. Around 23% of this region burns every year, contributing between 1% and 3% of Australia’s greenhouse gases. However, this figure only accounts for the officially noted emissions of nitrous oxide and methane rather than the total emissions - which would include any carbon dioxide that is not absorbed by new growth.

Much of the research has been done in partnership with the traditional owners. The research has included:

  • measuring the fuel load before and after both cool and hot burns. This fuel load includes grasses, shrubs, soil, leaf litter, logs, fallen branches and twigs, stands of trees and their canopy and individual trees.
  • measuring the d
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Student Worksheet

Thought starters: what are the consequences of people lighting fires in northern Australia?


What to do:

In these activities you will find out how the seasonal rainfall affects the types of fires in the tropical savanna of northern Australia. Your group will use the same online mapping and data used by people managing land in this region. They use this information to find out the fire history, the chance of having serious hot fires, and where fires are currently burning.

The big picture

As a class, go through the Tropical Savanna - big picture PowerPoint. Then view the video Traditional knowledge is the solution.

After viewing the video, take a couple of minutes to pick up a few interesting facts from the Fact Sheet - The maths and facts. From the information that has been presented pick out three main ideas that you identified:

Three main ideas:

As a class, find out if most students agree with your proposed main idea

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