Outline of unit

Australia experiences extremes of weather that vary across the continent and impact our lives, the environment and the Earth’s surface. Weather extremes have many consequences. Understanding these extremes of weather and the possible implications for human survival may help reduce their impact.

In this unit, students initially share their understanding of extreme weather conditions and develop a shared understanding of what constitutes extreme conditions before looking more specifically at cyclones. Through class discussions, individual work, group tasks and a simulation activity they develop an understanding of the features of cyclones and the conditions necessary for their formation.

Students then investigate the effects of cyclones, looking at how they can impact on peoples’ lives and the environmental damage they cause. They also investigate possible strategies that could be implemented to help reduce the impact and damage. Students look at the role science plays in predicting and tracking cyclones and how science helps us prepare for such events.

Australian Curriculum content descriptions

Science Understanding

Earth and space sciences

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

Science as a Human Endeavour

Use and influence of science

Scientific understandings, discoveries and inventions are used to solve problems that directly affect peoples’ lives (ACSHE100

Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE083)

Science Inquiry Skills

Questioning and predicting

With guidance, pose questions to clarify practical problems or inform a scientific investigation (ACSIS232

Planning and conducting

With guidance, plan appropriate investigation methods to answer questions or solve problems (ACSIS103


Communicate ideas, explanations and processes in a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS110

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). 

Achievement standard

This lesson sequence provides opportunities to gather information about students’ achievement of specific components in the standards (which are bolded in the statements below).

By the end of Year 6, students compare and classify different types of observable changes to materials. They analyse requirements for the transfer of electricity and describe how energy can be transformed from one form to another to generate electricity. They explain how natural events cause rapid change to the Earth’s surface. They describe and predict the effect of environmental changes on individual living things. Students explain how scientific knowledge is used in decision-making and identify contributions to the development of science by people from a range of cultures.


Students follow procedures to develop investigable questions and design investigations into simple cause-and-effect relationships. They identify variables to be changed and measured and describe potential safety risks when planning methods. They collect, organise and interpret their data, identifying where improvements to their methods or research could improve the data. They describe and analyse relationships in data using graphic representations and construct multi-modal texts to communicate ideas, methods and findings.

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). 

Cyclone Larry damage, Mourilyan, March 2006, Andrew Coghlan, CC BY-NC 3.0; Tropical Cyclone Yasi headed toward Queensland, Australia, NASA Goddard Photo and Video, CC BY 2.0; Houses destroyed by Cyclone Tracy, © Bettmann/Corbis.

Additional information for teachers


Background information (PDF, 362 KB)

Materials and equipment (PDF, 332 KB)

Safety advice (There is no specific safety advice for this unit. Ensure students are encouraged to engage in safe practice during investigations and activities.)