Activity Introduction

burning heroQuick summary: Students examine and analyse graphical data about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. They critically examine the evidence for climate change. Students use this evidence to resolve whether humans are influencing our climate and design a pamphlet to explain climate change to a wider audience.

Learning goal: 

  • Students understand the link between greenhouse gases and climate change.
  • They make the connection between the changes in greenhouse gas levels and human activity.

General capabilitiesCritical and creative thinking, ethical understanding, intercultural understanding.

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 5 Mathematics:  

  • Describe and interpret different data sets in context (ACMSP120)

Year 5 Geography: 

  • The influence of people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, on the environmental characteristics of Australian places (ACHASSK112)

Year 5 Science:

  • Solids, liquids and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways (ACSSU077)

Year 6 Mathematics: 

  • Interpret secondary data presented in digital media and elsewhere (ACMSP148)

Year 6 Geography:  

  • Organise and represent data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and large- and small-scale maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions (ACHASSI124)
  • The world’s cultural diversity, including that of its indigenous peoples (ACHASSK140)

Year 6 Science:

  • Sudden geological changes or extreme weather conditions can affect Earth’s surface (ACSSU096)

Syllabus OutcomesGE3-2, GE3-3, GE3-1, GE3-4ST2-7PW, ST3-9ESMA3-18SP, MA3‑1WM, MA3‑3WM

Topic: Cool burning

Time required: 90 – 110 minutes

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – review students’ knowledge and identify their misconceptions, assist students with simple chemistry concepts, assess student outcomes.

Resources needed: Internet, digital projector, Inquiry into Climate Change presentation.

Extension opportunities: Examine Australian online news media for climate change content, including discussions of issues.

Assessment: This rubric provides a method for monitoring students’ learning based on chosen criteria or guidelines. Rubric Yrs 5&6- Explaining climate change

Key words: climate, greenhouse, gas, carbon, carbon dioxide, oxygen, methane, nitrous oxide, atmosphere, water vapour, fossil fuels, temperature, chemical reaction, mixture

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 understand the link between greenhouse gases and climate change. They make the connection between the changes in greenhouse gas levels and human activity. Students investigate the effects of wildfires on greenhouse gas emissions.

Teacher content information: Students will need to understand the basic concepts behind human-induced climate change for them to make the connection between savanna fire management and Australia’s programs to reduce its contribution to greenhouse gases.

The atmosphere is made of a mixture of many gases, but consists mostly of nitrogen, oxygen and some water vapour. Small amounts of other gases can affect the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides are the main greenhouse gases produced when savannas burn. Methane and nitrous oxide have much higher warming effects per molecule when compared to carbon dioxide.

What we mean by 'weather' is the day to day climatic fluctuations we experience

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: what is the difference between fact and opinion?

In these activities you will learn about greenhouse gases and evidence of climate change and explain what climate change means.

Part 1: Let's find out what you know about climate change.

View the presentation Inquiry into Climate Change and write down your responses to the question.

Part 2 - Interpreting data graphs

A lot of very accurate weather data has been recorded over the last 100 years. Scientists have used the best modern instruments to show that the old instruments were very accurate. The red line on the graph below has been measured using thermometers. The black line represents measurements taken from a special satellite.

Satellite data over the past 30 years matches the measurements taken with thermometers at weather stations.

This graph shows the world’s average temperature for the past 130 years:

This graph has come from the NASA website:

1. Wha

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