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Focus Questions: Earth Science

Earth Science

Example #1- Research Inquiry

Claim: Climate change will make extreme weather events more frequent.

Research question: What effect does climate change have on the frequency of cyclones crossing the Queensland coast?

Developing the research question:

Steps

Details

1. Identify the key (important) terms in the claim.

a. ‘climate change’

b. ‘extreme weather event’

c. ‘frequent’

2. Propose refining questions that need to be addressed to refine key terms and narrow the focus of the claim.

a. How can sufficient and relevant evidence be collected for climate change?

b. How is an ‘extreme’ weather event defined? 

c. Which example of an extreme weather event should be chosen?

3. Provide an example of how one of the claims could be developed into a research question. Conduct research to gather information to address the refining questions.

a. The extreme weather events that will be investigated are cyclones.

b. Cyclones are severe hazards that threaten coastal communities and cause significant damage to infrastructure and agriculture. The effect of a cyclone will vary according to its severity.

c. Assumption is made that climate change can be linked to increasing atmospheric temperatures across the surface of the Earth.

d. The severity of a cyclone can be measured by factors such as central pressure, radius, wind speed or classification number for warnings.

4. Draft the research question to address the claim.

a. To what extent has air temperature caused an increase in the number and severity of cyclones crossing the Queensland coast?

5. Refine and focus the research question.

a. What type of data is relevant?

b. What time period is sufficient to show a correlation between air temperature and frequency and severity of cyclones?

6. Present the research question to the teacher for approval.

a. To what extent has average temperature increase across the continent correlated with the number or severity of cyclones around Australia?

 

Source

https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/

senior-qce/sciences/snr_earth_science_19_ia3_smple_ass_inst.pdf

 

 

Earth Science

Example #2- Research Inquiry

Claim: Rumen bacteria are the key to reducing greenhouse gases.

Research question: To what extent can kangaroo microflora introduced to the rumen of cattle reduce the production of methane gas from cellulose digestion?

Developing the research question:

Steps

Details

1. Identify the key (important) terms in the claim.

a. rumen bacteria

b. greenhouse gases

2. Propose questions that need to be addressed to refine key terms and narrow the focus of the claim.

a. How can sufficient and relevant evidence be collected to evaluate the effect of rumen bacteria on greenhouse gas reduction?

b. How do you determine which rumen bacteria will decrease greenhouse gases?

c. What animals are regarded as major contributors to greenhouse gases?

d. Which animal species in Australia should be chosen to investigate?

3. Conduct research to gather information to address the questions.

a. What are examples of greenhouse gases?

b. Current research has shown that microflora found in the digestive system of kangaroos produce no methane as a by-product.

c. Identify the specific microflora in kangaroos that could be transferred to the digestive systems of other animals which currently produce methane.

d. Find a practical application for this type of investigation.

4. Draft the research question to address the claim.

a. Can kangaroo microflora reduce methane emissions in cattle?

5. Refine and focus the research question.

a. What type of data is relevant?

b. What effect can kangaroo microflora transferred to the rumen of cattle have on reducing the production of methane gas from digestion?

6. Present the research question to the teacher for approval.

a. To what extent can kangaroo microflora introduced to the rumen of cattle reduce the production of methane gas from cellulose digestion?

 

Source

https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/senior-qce/sciences/snr_earth_science_19_unit2_smple_ass_inst.pdf

 

 

 

Earth Science

Example #1- Practical Investigation

Practical that will be modified: Use local soil samples to measure soil properties to classify and assess quality, including organic content, pH, moisture content, soil texture and structure.

Research question: How does changing the level of soil nitrogen affect the vegetative growth of sweet corn (Zea mays)?

Developing the research question:

Steps

Details

1. Identify the independent variable to be investigated

 

a. Change in level of soil nitrogen

2. Identify the dependent variable

 

a. Mass of vegetative dry matter of sweet corn

3. Identify the methodology to be used

 

a. Field trial

4. Draft research questions

a. Why is nitrogen important for vegetative growth of plants?

b. Will the plant respond to different levels of nitrogen in the soil?

c. Which plants require significant amounts of nitrogen in the soil?

 

5. Refine and focus the research question

a. Will changing the level of nitrogen available have a significant effect on vegetative growth of plants?

 

6. Present research question to teacher for approval

a. How does changing the level of soil nitrogen affect the vegetative growth of sweet corn (Zea mays)?

 

Source

https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/senior-qce/sciences/snr_earth_science_19_unit1_smple_ass_inst.pdf

 

 

Earth Science

Example #2- Practical Investigation

Practical that will be modified: Investigate the effect of slope/revegetation on the volume of water runoff and amount of topsoil lost through erosion.

Research question: Can a mathematical model be used to describe the relationship between the slope gradient of the land and the mass of soil lost through water erosion?

Developing the research question:

Steps

Details

1. Identify the independent variable to be investigated.

 

Per cent slope gradient.

2. Identify the dependent variable

Mass of soil collected in run-off.

 

3. Identify the methodology to be used

Laboratory/field trial.

 

4. Draft research questions.

a. How does the slope of the ground affect erosion?

b. What is the relationship between per cent slope gradient and soil erosion?

5. Refine and focus the research question.

a. What is the effect of increasing per cent slope gradient on the amount of soil lost through water erosion?

6. Present research question to teacher for approval.

a. Can a mathematical model be used to describe the relationship between the slope gradient of the land and the mass of soil lost through water erosion?

Source

https://www.qcaa.qld.edu.au/downloads/senior-qce/sciences/snr_earth_science_19_ia2_smple_ass_inst.pdf