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Understanding climate change

About this lesson

Students explore climate change including its effect on water and create an educational climate change quiz.


Year level: 10

Theme: Water and the natural environment


Learning objectives

Students can:
  • understand climate change and what it is caused by
  • analyse and compare rainfall data and draw conclusions
  • create a climate change quiz to educate others about climate change.

Curriculum links

Science

  • Global systems, including the carbon cycle, rely on interactions involving the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere ACSSU189
  • People can use scientific knowledge to evaluate whether they should accept claims, explanations or predictions ACSHE194
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence ACSIS204

Things you will need

Lesson description

Discuss

  • Break students into groups and get them to brainstorm what they think climate change is and its causes. List ideas on post-it notes and then stick them on the board. As a class categorise these ideas.
  • View the video Climate change fuelling wilder weather (2:14).
  • Have students read the fact sheet.

Activity

Part 1 – How is climate change affecting WA in regards to water and water use?

  • Students compare monthly rainfall in the South West (e.g. Margaret River) and North West (e.g. Broome). Use the Bureau of Meteorology’s climate data online. Select ‘monthly rainfall’ and a weather station to see range of data.
  • Students examine streamflow data for Perth dams, focusing on the average gigalitres (GL) using our rainfall data.
  • As a class discuss the findings (less rainfall in the SW, dramatically reduced streamflow into Perth dams, more rainfall in the NW).
  • How do these findings impact us? Talking points:
    • Hotter, drier summers and more bushfires lead to increased water use.
    • Less rainfall in the South West affects water supply.
    • How to manage floods and other extreme weather occurrences such as cyclones up North.

Part 2 – Create a 'Are you a climate champion' quiz

  • Ask students what can we do to help reduce climate change?
  • Students are to individually create a ‘Are you a climate change champion? Quiz’ to be based on scientific knowledge. The aim of the quiz is to educate other students about climate change and how they can reduce their impact on the environment (including ways to save and reuse water).
  • Have the class agree on the format for the quiz, number of questions, method of delivery (hard copy quiz, online quiz etc.), a scoring mechanism and a ranking (e.g. High score = Climate Change Superhero, low score = Climate Burner).
  • Students research scientific facts, draft a quiz and trial it. After editing, the final quiz is completed by the school community.

Reflect & summarise

  • Review results. How effective were the quizzes? What interesting facts were revealed?
  • What do we think about fellow students’ understanding of climate change? What can we do to reduce our own and the community’s impact? 

Extension activities

Teacher background information

Towards climate resilience

As WA continues to experience the effects of a drying climate, planning for water services to meet future demand is ever more important. In 2009, Water Corporation released its 50-year plan, Water Forever: Towards Climate Resilience. The principle of becoming more climate resilient is now applied to all planning for water services across the state.

Water Forever provides a portfolio of options to manage water demand and supply to 2060 by:

  • reducing water use by 25%
  • increasing water recycling to 60%
  • developing up to 100 billion litres of new water sources.

The effects of Perth’s changing climate

In Perth the changing climate has become more noticeable in the past 10 years, presenting new challenges. Reduced rainfall, and changes in rainfall timing, have greatly reduced runoff into dams and dramatically reduced their role in our drinking water supplies. Water Corporation plans to sustainably drought-proof Perth by:

  • transferring groundwater abstraction to deeper aquifers to protect the groundwater environment and secure groundwater supplies
  • replenishing deep aquifers with recycled water through a groundwater replenishment scheme
  • expanding seawater desalination capacity to offset the declining inflow to our dams
  • continuing to make gains in water use efficiency
  • using wastewater recycling as a resource for industry, public open spaces and agriculture.

Delivering sustainable water & wastewater services

Water Corporation will continue to deliver sustainable water and wastewater services to the state by ensuring the following:

  • In the South West, the Bridgetown Regional Water Supply Scheme is supplemented with groundwater from the Yarragadee aquifer and will be expanded to progressively connect other towns.
  • Through planned investment the Great Southern Region's climate resilience will be increased by working towards interconnecting more schemes and exploring new water sources.
  • In the Goldfields Agricultural Region, the Goldfields and Agricultural Water Supply Scheme will be maintained. Expected population growth in Esperance will also be supported.
  • In the Mid-West, a staged approach will see expansion of the borefield supplying the Geraldton Regional Water Supply Scheme.
  • For the fast-growing North West, the priority is to deliver more water and wastewater services while working with the community to reduce the region's high water use. We are making major investments in the investigation and development of new water sources and upgrading existing schemes.
  • Across the state, we are committed to increasing recycling of wastewater from 13.5% to 30% by 2030.

Resources

Did you know?

The summer of 2012–2013 was Australia’s hottest summer since records began in 1910.

Key vocabulary

  • Aquifer: Porous soil or rock that holds groundwater and is sufficiently permeable to yield significant volumes of water.
  • Climate change: A significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years.
  • Gigalitre: One thousand million litres.
  • Groundwater: Water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations.
  • Streamflow: The amount of water that flows into dams each year.
  • Sustainable: Using a resource so that it is not depleted or permanently damaged.