Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In order to create practical solutions that effectively address the impact of bushfires on people and property, students must become informed and gain a detailed understanding of the research and ideas already being implemented in the real world.

This set of resources challenges teachers and educators to expand their practice by utilising the design process methodology – an engaging, self-directed learning structure that guides students towards becoming experts so that they can ultimately design solutions that have a positive impact on people and communities.

This lesson guides students through the consideration of a variety of bushfire-resistant housing principles. It directs their thinking and independent research towards existing ideas of real-world scientists, engineers and designers working in this space, inspiring and informing students about potential solutions and how to implement them effectively as well as the potential limitations of these solutions. By the end of this stage students will have a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t and have a solid foundation for designing solutions going forward.

In partnership with The Conversation, the Beyond the Bushfires series brings the words of scientists who are actively involved in research and science communication into classrooms throughout Australia. Students will explore evidence-based research embedded in the context of real-world practice.

Additional thanks to the Ian Potter Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts and The Myer Foundation, for generously supporting the development of these lessons.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand the varied approaches to creating bushfire-resistant housing, including building materials, shape and features as well as environmental landscaping.

21st century skills: 

Critical ThinkingDigital LiteracyEntrepreneurshipFlexibilityInitiativeProblem Finding

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Years 7 and 8 Design and Technologies

  • Analyse ways to produce designed solutions through selecting and combining characteristics and properties of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment (ACTDEK034)
  • Critique needs or opportunities for designing and investigate, analyse and select from a range of materials, components, tools, equipment and processes to develop design ideas (ACTDEP035)

Syllabus outcomes: T4.3.1, T4.3.2, T4.1.1

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

Relevant parts of Years 7 and 8 Design and Technologies achievement standards: Students explain how social, ethical, technical and sustainability considerations influence the design of innovative and enterprising solutions to meet a range of present and future needs. Students explain a range of needs, opportunities or problems and define them in terms of functional requirements and constraints. They collect, authenticate and interpret data from a range of sources to assist in making informed judgements. Students generate and document in digital and non-digital form, design ideas for different audiences using appropriate technical terms, and graphical representation techniques including algorithms.

Topics: Climate Change, The Conversation, Beyond the Bushfires, Sustainability.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Beyond the Bushfires: Bushfire Resistant Housing.

Time required: 100 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Facilitate class discussion, support student thinking, scaffold students through tasks and resources.

Be aware that the Design Process challenges the traditional roles in learning of instructors as the main disseminator of information and students having reduced agency. In this model, the instructor’s task is to challenge students’ pre-conceived ideas, foster their curiosity, pose challenging questions, and provide support and guidance to students as they are self-directed in pursuing knowledge.

Resources required:

Keywords: earthships, conversation, Ian Potter, design, research, mudbrick, bushfires, creative, community, rebuild, empathy

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students understand...

  • ... the varied approaches to creating bushfire-resistant housing, including building materials, shape and features as well as environmental landscaping.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... critically evaluate the effectiveness of bushfire resistant housing design principles.

Teacher content information:

The design process

The design process is an approach for creating solutions to practical, real-world problems by breaking down the project into manageable chunks and thoroughly working through the challenges framed by each unique phase to arrive at a refined idea.

These phases are:

  • The empathise phase
  • The define phase
  • The research phase
  • The ideate and prototype phase
  • The evaluation phase

Architects, engineers, scientists and other thinkers use the design process to create livable solutions for people, but the process can also be a way to explore, define and action social and environmental

- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.