Activity Introduction

This lesson is designed to be completed independently by students. 

Students will read two different articles; one chosen for them and one of their own choice. They will answer a set of questions on both of these articles to determine scientific information and validity. Following this, they will answer a series of questions asking them to think about the similarities and differences in the way the two articles presented information about the bushfires. Next, they will complete a set of activities exploring the language of comparing and contrasting so that they can formulate their own complex sentences to determine the similarities and differences between the two articles.

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Year 7 Science

  • People use science understanding and skills in their occupations and these have influenced the development of practices in areas of human activity (ACSHE121)

Year 8 Science

  • People use science understanding and skills in their occupations and these have influenced the development of practices in areas of human activity (ACSHE136)

Year 9 Science

  • Values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (ACSHE228)

Year 10 Science

  • Global systems, including the carbon cycle, rely on interactions involving the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere (ACSSU189)
  • Scientific understanding, including models and theories, is contestable and is refined over time through a process of review by the scientific community (ACSHE191)
  • Values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (ACSHE230)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS208)

Year 7 English

  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret, analyse and synthesise ideas and information, critiquing ideas and issues from a variety of textual sources (ACELY1723)
  • Edit for meaning by removing repetition, refining ideas, reordering sentences and adding or substituting words for impact (ACELY1726)
  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725)

Year 8 English

  • Interpret the stated and implied meanings in spoken texts, and use evidence to support or challenge different perspectives (ACELY1730)
  • Apply increasing knowledge of vocabulary, text structures and language features to understand the content of texts (ACELY1733)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and evaluate texts by reflecting on the validity of content and the credibility of sources, including finding evidence in the text for the author’s point of view (ACELY1734)
  • Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that raise issues, report events and advance opinions, using deliberate language and textual choices, and including digital elements as appropriate (ACELY1736)

General capabilities: Literacy, Ethical Understanding, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Background information

From natural disasters to volatile leaders to environmental degradation to social and economic woes, our world can feel like a complicated and daunting place, especially for young people. News headlines can capture the worst of these events, leaving the impression that we live in a daunting and even frightening place. This can lead young people to a feeling of powerlessness about their lives, both now and in the future. However, reading and analysing news articles tells us what the real story behind the headlines and helps us to move beyond our uncertainty and fear to a place where we may be compelled to take positive action, instead of feeling powerless.

Tips for Parents and Carers

For many people in Australia – including and especially young people – the bushfires were and continue to be a source of considerable anxiety and stress. This is particularly true for those who were immediately impacted by the fires.

If you need further support for students please refer to:

Resources Required


[email protected] from Cool Australia

[email protected] resources are designed for parents and teachers to use with children in the home environment. They can be used as stand alone activities or built into existing curriculum-aligned learning programs. Our [email protected] series includes two types of resources. The first are fun and challenging real world activities for all ages, the second are self-directed lessons for upper primary and secondary students. These lessons support independent learning in a remote or school settings.

This lesson has been developed in partnership with The Conversation. The Conversation’s mission is to be known as a prominent and trusted publisher of new thinking and evidence-based research, editorially independent and free of commercial or political bias. The Conversation hopes teachers will use their content as a source of truthful information, and that teachers can show their students the importance of trusted, evidence-based information in understanding the world around them and making informed decisions about their actions. Please follow the republishing guidelines when using The Conversation’s articles.

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


Student Worksheet

Comparing The Facts About Bushfires - Activity Instructions

Learning intentions:

  • You will understand how climate change is affecting bushfires and the bushfire season in Australia
  • You will understand how science can be used to help us understand the world around us
  • You will utilise the language of comparison in sustained paragraphs.

Success criteria:

  • You can analyse an article
  • You can conduct a comparative analysis between two articles.
  • You can work independently
  • You can write sentences utilising the language of comparison.


Some say we've seen bushfires worse than this before. But they're ignoring a few key facts

Joelle Gergis, Australian National University and Geoff Cary, Australian National University

Every time a weather extreme occurs, some people quickly jump in to say we’ve been through it all before: that worse events have happened in the past, or it’s just part of natural climate variability.

The recent bushfire

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