Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students investigate the relationship between cool burning practices and climate change. They begin by reading a range of materials about climate change and cool burning and develop a series of questions about these topics that they would like answered. They then select one question to be answered and swap this with a classmate. Students then need to undertake research to answer their assigned question and create a communication piece to share their findings. Students then work collaboratively to think critically about the role of carbon farming and carbon credits in using cool burning as a climate mitigation strategy.

Learning intentions:

  • Students strengthen their understanding of human-induced climate change
  • Students explore cool burning practices
  • Students identify connections between cool burning practices and climate change mitigation.

21st century skills:

Critical ThinkingCultural Understanding

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 10 Geography:  

  • The human-induced environmental changes that challenge sustainability (ACHGK070)
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ approaches to custodial responsibility and environmental management in different regions of Australia (ACHGK072)
  • The application of geographical concepts and methods to the management of the environmental change being investigated (ACHGK074)
  • Develop geographically significant questions and plan an inquiry that identifies and applies appropriate geographical methodologies and concepts (ACHGS072)
  • Collect, select, record and organise relevant data and geographical information, using ethical protocols, from a range of appropriate primary and secondary sources (ACHGS073)
  • Evaluate multi-variable data and other geographical information using qualitative and quantitative methods and digital and spatial technologies as appropriate to make generalisations and inferences, propose explanations for patterns, trends, relationships and anomalies, and predict outcomes (ACHGS076)
  • Apply geographical concepts to synthesise information from various sources and draw conclusions based on the analysis of data and information, taking into account alternative points of view (ACHGS077)
  • Identify how geographical information systems (GIS) might be used to analyse geographical data and make predictions (ACHGS078)
  • Present findings, arguments and explanations in a range of appropriate communication forms selected for their effectiveness and to suit audience and purpose, using relevant geographical terminology and digital technologies as appropriate (ACHGS079)

Syllabus outcomesGE5-2, GE5-3, GE5-4, GE5-5, GE5-7, GE5-8

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Intercultural Understanding

Cross-curriculum priority:

Relevant parts of Year 10 Geography achievement standards: Students identify, analyse and explain significant interconnections between people, places and environments and explain changes that result from these interconnections and their consequences. Students use initial research to develop and modify geographically significant questions to frame an inquiry. They critically evaluate a range of primary and secondary sources to select and collect relevant, reliable and unbiased geographical information and data. They analyse and synthesise data and other information to draw reasoned conclusions, taking into account alternative perspectives. Students present findings, arguments and explanations using relevant geographical terminology and graphic representations and digital technologies in a range of selected and appropriate communication forms.

Topic: Cool Burning, Indigenous Education.

Unit of work: Cool Burning – Secondary.

Time needed: 60 minutes

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee students activities and lead students in discussions. 

Resources required: 

  • Student access to a device with internet
  • Student Worksheet – one copy per student.

Related professional development: 

Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, climate change, carbon credits, Carbon Farming Initiative.

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.

Cool Australia would like to acknowledge the support of the Bennelong Foundation in updating these lessons.

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. 


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... strengthen their understanding of human-induced climate change
  • ... explore cool burning practices
  • .... identify connections between cool burning practices and climate change mitigation.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... work independently
  • ... develop questions to guide an inquiry
  • ... undertake research
  • ... think critically to draw conclusions.

Teacher content information: In Australia, 23-25% of the land is covered in tropical savanna. Each year in the late dry season, hot fires sweep through a large proportion of this area. Hot burns result in about 25% of the landscape being burnt, which contributes between 1% and 3% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions (Note: this figure just accounts for nitrous oxide and methane rather than the total emissions that includes any carbon dioxide not absorbed by new growth.). Before European contact, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the tropic

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: Why would some scientists call global warming 'global weirding'?

Understanding The Issues

1. Spend ten minutes exploring the videos in the Climate Change Digital Library and the Cool Burning Digital Library on the Cool Australia website. Then read over the factsheets below.

2. think about what you've read and seen and create a series of questions that you are interested in or would like answered. You can use the question starters below. Create at least one question for each starter:

How would it be different if…?


Suppose that…?


What are the reasons…?


What if…?


What if we knew…?


What is the purpose of…?


What would change if…? 



Digging Deeper

You will investigate the answer to the question you wer

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