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NSW Syllabuses

Glossary

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abiotic
The non-living components of the environment.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Aboriginal Peoples are the first peoples of Australia and are represented by over 250 language groups each associated with a particular Country or territory. Torres Strait Islander Peoples whose island territories to the north east of Australia were annexed by Queensland in 1879 are also Indigenous Australians and are represented by five cultural groups.

An Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person is someone who:

  • is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent
  • identifies as an Aboriginal person and/or Torres Strait Islander person, and
  • is accepted as such by the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community in which they live.
anthropogenic climate variation

Variation in the climate that is caused or influenced by human activity.

biota (biotic)

All of the living organisms in a specific region or area, including animals, plants and microorganisms.

conclusion
A judgement based on evidence.
controlled variable
A variable that is kept constant (or changed in constant ways) during an investigation.
Country

An area that is traditionally owned and looked after by an Aboriginal language group or community or certain people within that group. The term may indicate more than simply a geographical area – it is also a concept that can encompass the spiritual meanings and feelings of attachment associated with that area.

cryosphere
The frozen water part of the Earth’s system.
dendrochronology

The method of using the annual rings of trees to gather evidence of past events.

dependent variable
A variable that changes in response to changes to the independent variable in an investigation.
digital technologies
Systems that handle digital data, including hardware and software, for specific purposes.
environment
All surroundings, both living and non-living.
geo-engineering

Large-scale manipulation of global climate systems to reduce harmful variations in the Earth’s climate. This manipulation, or intervention, is based on carbon dioxide removal or solar radiation management.

hypothesis
A tentative explanation for an observed phenomenon, expressed as a precise and unambiguous statement that can be supported or refuted by experiment.
independent variable
A variable that is changed in an investigation to see what effect it has on the dependent variable.
inquiry question
A driving question for an investigation.
investigation

A scientific process of answering a question, exploring an idea or solving a problem which requires activities such as planning a course of action, collecting data, interpreting data, reaching a conclusion and communicating these activities. Investigations can include practical and/or secondary-sourced data or information.

model
A representation that describes, simplifies, clarifies or provides an explanation of the workings, structure or relationships within an object, system or idea.
Place

A space mapped out by physical or intangible boundaries that individuals or groups of Torres Strait Islander Peoples occupy and regard as their own. It is a space with varying degrees of spirituality.

practical investigations

An investigation that involves systematic scientific inquiry by planning a course of action and using equipment to collect data and/or information. Practical investigations include a range of hands-on activities, and can include laboratory investigations and fieldwork.

primary sources/primary data
Information created by a person or persons directly involved in a study or observing an event.
reliability

An extent to which repeated observations and/or measurements taken under identical circumstances will yield similar results.

secondary-sourced investigation/data

An investigation that involves systematic scientific inquiry by planning a course of action and sourcing data and/or information from other people, including written information, reports, graphs, tables, diagrams and images.

superposition
In layers of stratified sedimentary rocks, the lowest layer is the first to be deposited.
technology

All types of human-made systems, tools, machines and processes that can help solve human problems or satisfy needs or wants, including modern computational and communication devices.

theory
A set of concepts, claims and/or laws that can be used to explain and predict a wide range of related observed phenomena. Theories are typically founded on clearly identified assumptions, are testable, produce reproducible results and have explanatory power.
uniformitarianism
The Earth’s geologic processes acted in the same manner and with the same intensity in the past as they do at present.
validity

An extent to which tests measure what was intended or to which data inferences and actions produced from tests and other processes are accurate.

variable

In an investigation, a factor that can be changed, maintained or measured, eg time, distance, light, temperature.