Glossary term



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.


A variant form of a gene.

biota (biotic)

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


A judgement based on evidence.

controlled variable

A variable that is kept constant (or changed in constant ways) during an investigation.


An area that is traditionally owned and looked after by an Aboriginal language group or community, or by 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.

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.


All surroundings, both living and non-living.

gene pool

The stock of different genes in an interbreeding population.


A tentative explanation for an observed phenomenon, expressed as a precise and unambiguous statement that can be supported or refuted by investigation.

independent variable

A variable that is changed in an investigation to see what effect it has on the dependent variable.

Indigenous cultural and intellectual property

Includes objects, sites, cultural knowledge, cultural expression and the arts, that have been transmitted or continue to be transmitted through generations as belonging to a particular Indigenous group or Indigenous people as a whole or their territory.


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.


A change in gene frequency in a population over a short period of time.


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


A position or function in a habitat that provides all the requirements for life of a species.


A space mapped out by physical or intangible boundaries that individuals or groups of Torres Strait Islander Peoples occupy and regard as their own. Places are spaces that have varying degrees of spirituality.


Decide on a course of action, and make arrangements relating to that course of action, in advance.

practical investigation

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.


Appropriate ways of behaving, communicating and showing respect for the diversity of histories and cultures. This involves appreciation of the knowledge, standing and status of people within a local Aboriginal community. Protocols inevitably vary between communities, and between people within a community. In establishing partnerships between Aboriginal communities and industries or professions, it is especially important that protocols are acknowledged and respected.


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

secondary-sourced investigation

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.


Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, including mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism. Symbiosis can be positive (beneficial) or negative.


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.


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.


The process by which a sequence of nucleotide triplets in a messenger RNA molecule gives rise to a specific sequence of amino acids during synthesis of a polypeptide or protein.


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


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


An insect or animal that carries a disease from one animal or plant to another.