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. Students use the information from this website to create and annotate a map of a region in the Australian tropical savanna.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand some of the ways humans have influence over landscapes
  • Students understand how online mapping tools can be used to manage natural phenomena, such as fires.

21st century skills:

Critical ThinkingCultural UnderstandingDigital Literacy

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

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)
  • Evaluate sources for their reliability and usefulness and select, collect and record relevant geographical data and information, using ethical protocols, from appropriate primary and secondary sources (ACHGS056)

Syllabus outcomesGE4-1, GE4-4, GE4-2, GE4-3, GE4-5

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Intercultural Understanding, ICT Capability.

Cross-curriculum priority:

Relevant parts of Year 8 Geography achievement standards: Students explain interconnections within environments and between people and places and explain how they change places and environments. They evaluate a range of primary and secondary sources to locate useful and reliable information and data.

Topic: Cool Burning, Indigenous Education.

Unit of work: Cool Burning – Secondary.

Time required: 60 mins.

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 required:

Related professional development: 

Keywords: Fire scars, hotspots, charts, graphs, emissions.

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...

  • ... understand some of the ways humans have influence over landscapes
  • ... understand how online mapping tools can be used to manage natural phenomena, such as fires.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... read, view and analyse a range of mixed media texts
  • ... navigate a website and draw conclusions about functionality and purpose
  • ... create a communication piece to share findings.

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 Isla

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: What is the difference between a cool burn and a hot burn?

In this lesson 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 to find out the fire history, the chance of having serious hot fires and where fires are currently burning.

Collecting, Evaluating, Processing And Analysing

Step 1. In the table and graph below you will find the average rainfall from Mango Farm, a location near Fish River Station. This seasonal rainfall pattern occurs over all of the tropical savanna. Using this information, answer the questions below about the seasons of the tropical savanna.



























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