Learning plan

What makes humans uniquely successful?

In What makes human uniquely successful? students will learn about the differences between humans and other species and how collective learning has led to the technological innovations which shape our connected world.

Begin by reading through the What makes humans uniquely successful? learning goals below with students.

Some of the vocabulary may be unfamiliar to students at this initial stage. You may like to briefly explain the simpler terms but assure them that once they have completed What makes humans uniquely successful? they will have learned all the new vocabulary.

Ask students to tick the check boxes beside each learning goal to acknowledge that they have read their What makes humans uniquely successful? learning goals. You will ask students to review these learning goals at the end of What makes humans uniquely successful to confirm whether or not they are confident they have achieved them.

Junior Pre 4.1



2Al

Activity 4.1.1 Objectives

Learning Goals

  • Use claim testers to evaluate claims about humans and other species

Introduction

Students have quite a few misconceptions about the differences between humans and other living things. To help draw out some of those misconceptions and as a fun introduction to learning about humans, play the Snap Judgement game.

This game can be played as a whole class or individually/in pairs. If you are playing the game as a class, you will need to set up the class beforehand. Photocopy the Claims: snap judgement human display onto A3 paper and blu-tac the three claims in different places on the classroom walls. You will find a copy of Claims: snap judgement human display in Helpful Resources. You will then need to place two different coloured post-it note pads beside each claim.

Note: If you are completing this activity as a class you will need to organise 6 post-it note pads, 3 of one colour and 3 of another.


Claims: snap judgement human

Remind students that when somebody makes a ‘claim’ they are presenting information as fact - not an opinion. They are asking you to trust that what they are saying is based on reliable information.

Ask students to recall the four claim testers. You may like to refer to the Infographic: the four claim testers in Helpful Resources.

Introduce the Snap Judgement game where students will need to make a quick decision about whether they think a claim is true or not.

Snap Judgement Game - Whole Class
Draw students’ attention to the claims you have displayed around the classroom and ask them to take a minute to think about whether they trust the claim. When you say ‘Go’ they are to walk over to a claim, pick up a post-it note and write ‘Trust’ or ‘Don’t Trust’ and state their reason why in one sentence. Have them use, for example, the green post-it notes if they trust the claim and the pink post-it notes if they don’t trust the claim. They then need to decide which claim tester they are using, e.g. intuition, logic, authority or evidence, and place their post-it note under that claim tester heading. Once they post their note on the claim, they move on to the next claim until they have completed all three.

Snap Judgement Game - Individual/Pairs
If students are playing the game individually or in pairs, give each student/pair a copy of the Claims: snap judgement human worksheet. They have only 5 minutes to write down whether they trust or don’t trust each claim, write one sentence for each explaining why and circle which claim tester they used to decide on each claim.

4.1.1 - Claims - Snap Judgement Human Worksheet - Australian English

Helpful Resources

Infographic: the four claim testers


Activity 4.1.1 Review

Conclusion

Once students have completed the Snap Judgement game, take an informal tally of how many students thought each claim was trustworthy and how many thought each claim was not. Let them know that you will come back to these claims after they have watched Mission video 20: differences between humans and other species and they will have a chance to revisit their responses.

You will find an example of responses to the Claims: snap judgement human worksheet in Helpful Resources.

Helpful Resources

Claims: Snap Judgement Human Worksheet Answers

Claims: Snap Judgement Human Display

Formative Assessment

Responses to Claims: snap judgement human worksheet.


Go to Activity 4.1.2   »

Course Glossary

accretion

The gradual process of matter being pulled together by gravity to make larger and larger clumps of matter.

adaptation

A special skill or physical feature which helps a species to survive and thrive in its environment. For example, a chameleon changing colour to camouflage itself.

aerial view

A view of something from the sky looking down.

agriculture

Also referred to as farming, agriculture is the practice of growing crops and raising animals. It is an innovation which has allowed human societies to expand and thrive.

AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a type of technology which can perceive things, interpret them and make decisions in a similar way to humans.

amphibian

Animals that evolved from fish to have gills so that they can live in water and also live and breathe on land.

anthropologist

A scientist who studies humans and human behaviour.

asteroids

Rocky bodies which are too small to be called planets.

astronomer

A scientist who studies the Universe and everything in it.

atmosphere

A thin layer of gases, otherwise known as air, that surrounds Earth and other planets.

atoms

Tiny particles which make up everything in the Universe.

authority

Someone who knows a lot about a subject and whose views are respected.

battery storage

A large battery that stores electrical energy which can then be used when other energy sources are not available.

Big Bang theory

Theory about how the Universe began 13.8 billion years ago. All matter, time, space and energy came from the Big Bang.

Big History

The history of the entire Universe beginning 13.8 billion years ago.

biochemist

A scientist who studies the chemistry of living things.

biologist

A scientist who studies living things.

black hole

An area in space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape from it – not even light.

brainstorming

A creative strategy for thinking about and sharing ideas to solve a challenge or task.

CBR

Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR) is the radiation left over from the initial energy of the Big Bang. It can be seen through powerful space telescopes.

chemical compounds

Chemical elements which have combined with different chemical elements. For example, hydrogen can combine with oxygen to create the chemical compound water (H2O).

chemical elements

Pure substances which are made from a single type of atom. For example, Helium.

chemist

A scientist who studies the substances that make up all the matter in the Universe.

claim

Information which is presented as fact – not an opinion.

cognitive

To do with mental activity such as thinking, using logic or remembering.

collective learning

The human ability to store and share and build on information from generation to generation.

comets

Balls of frozen gases, rock and dust which orbit the Sun.

community

A group of people who live together. They help each other and work together to solve problems.

compare

To look at what two or more things have in common with each other.

continental drift theory

A theory which states that the Earth’s continents were once joined together in one supercontinent, then broke up and slowly drifted apart.

contrast

To look at how two or more things are different to each other.

convergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates move towards each other.

cosmologist

A scientist who studies the structure and history of the Universe.

creative thinking

Thinking of new ways to solve problems, generate new explanations and/or create something original.

Critical thinking

Thinking which doesn’t rely on simply accepting what someone has said. It involves questioning, using logic and seeking information from experts before drawing a conclusion.

cross section

A view of something as if it has been sliced through with a knife.

digital technology

A term which covers electronic technologies such as computers, tablets and mobile phones.

disciplines

Different areas of knowledge, for example, natural sciences.

divergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates slide apart from each other.

Earth’s core

At its centre, Earth contains a solid inner core and a liquid outer core made of iron and nickel.

Earth’s crust

The layer that floats on top of the mantle and is made of lighter weight rocks and minerals.

electrical technology

Technologies which use electricity as their main power source, for example, light bulbs, electric motors and television.

energy sources

A resource which can be used to provide power. For example, fossil fuels like coal and oil; renewable resources like solar and wind or uranium for nuclear power.

engineer

An expert who designs and builds machines and structures.

evidence

Information which may support or disprove a claim.

evolution

The theory of evolution explains how all the species alive today generated from the first simple life forms on Earth.

exoplanets

Planets which orbit stars outside of our solar system.

expert

A person with a special skill or knowledge in a particular area.

flyby

A path followed by a spacecraft which has been sent close enough to a planet to record scientific data.

fossil fuels

A carbon- based material such as coal, oil, or natural gas that can be used as an energy source. Fossil fuels were originally formed when the remains of living organisms were buried and broken down by intense heat and pressure over millions of years.

gas giants

The four large outermost planets – Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter – which are mostly made of lighter chemical elements like Hydrogen and Helium.

geologist

A scientist who analyses rocks, minerals and landforms.

Goldilocks conditions

The ‘just right’ conditions for life to exist. For example, Earth has the right temperature range, a protective atmosphere and liquid water.

gravity

The energy force which tries to pull two objects toward each other. The bigger an object is, the stronger its gravitational pull.

Homo sapiens

Modern humans who first appeared 300,000 years ago. We are homo sapiens.

hunters and gatherers

Human societies which move from place to place to hunt meat and gather fruit and vegetables to survive.

industrial technology

Machines which operate on a large scale by using energy sources such as water, steam power, oil and coal.

innovation

Using existing knowledge to come up with new technologies or new ways of doing things.

intelligent life

Beings from other planets who are able to think, learn and understand. Scientists continue to search for intelligent life out in the Universe.

intuition

A ‘gut feeling’ that a claim may be true or false.

Jovian planets

The term Jovian planets refers to the large gassy planets furthest from the Sun - Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. They are also known as gas giants.

Karman line

An imaginary line 100 kms above the Earth’s crust where it has been internationally agreed the Earth’s atmosphere ends and space begins.

KWHLAQ chart

A visible framework which uses a series of step-by-step questions to provide guidance through the creative thinking process.

lander

A spacecraft which has been designed to make a soft landing on a planet or moon etc.

logic

Carefully thinking about a claim to decide whether it makes sense.

mantle

The layer that surrounds the Earth’s core and is made of minerals and rocks which slowly flow in a sludge of melted iron.

matter

Everything around us that has weight and takes up space. All matter is made up of atoms.

meteoroids

Otherwise known as shooting stars, meteoroids are small space rocks which burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

module

A self-contained unit which can be joined together with other units to build something more complex.

multi-planetary species

A species which lives on more than one planet. Humans could become the first known multi-planetary species by establishing a human habitat on Mars.

multicellular organisms

A complex organism which is made up of more than one cell. For example, animals and plants.

natural selection

The process by which individuals in a species who have more successful adaptations have more children, therefore passing their successful adaptations on to future generations.

nuclear fusion

The process of hydrogen atoms being crushed together in a star’s hot centre, releasing heat and energy for billions of years.

orbiter

A spacecraft designed to orbit a planet and collect scientific data over a long period of time.

overpopulation

When a population grows too big for the available resources, for example, food. Humans have, in the past, solved potential problems through innovations such as agriculture.

ozone layer

An invisible layer in Earth’s upper atmosphere which helps to protect us from the Sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays.

periodic table

A diagram of all the chemical elements in the Universe. It was created by a Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev.

quasars

Quasi Stellar Objects (Quasars) are believed to be the brightest and most distant objects in the Universe.

radiation

The transfer of energy (heat, sound or light) through waves. It can come from cosmic rays or from the Earth. Too much exposure to radiation is harmful to humans.

redshift

When a star or galaxy moves away, its light waves are stretched out and it has a red glow. This is called redshift and provides evidence that the Universe is expanding.

robotics

A type of technology which allows machines to be programmed to move and complete set tasks.

rocky planets

The four small inner planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars – which are mostly made of heavier chemical elements like iron.

rover

A moving robot which is sent to the surface of another planet to explore, collect scientific data and samples.

self-sustaining

Being able to exist for a long time without outside help by using resources responsibly.

single-celled organisms

A simple organism which is made up of only one cell. For example, simple bacteria.

singularity

The extremely small point which contained the ingredients for everything in the Universe. Everything was crushed together in this singularity at the moment of the Big Bang.

sol

The name of a solar day on Mars, which is 24.65 hours.

star

A massive sphere of very hot gas which makes its own light and energy through nuclear fusion.

supernova

The spectacular explosion which occurs when a massive star dies. It blows chemical elements out into the Universe.

survive

To be able to continue to live. For example, having enough food to avoid dying of starvation.

technology

New tools or methods, developed through the use of scientific knowledge, which can be used to solve problems.

tectonic plates

The large solid-rock moving pieces which make up the Earth’s crust.

thrive

To be able to grow, be successful and become stronger. For example, humans thrive when they are part of a connected community.

timeline

A graphic which includes a list of events placed in the order that they happened.

transform boundary

Where two tectonic plates meet and try to move past each other.

uranium

A chemical element which is found in the Earth’s crust and is used as an energy source in nuclear power plants.

venn diagram

A visual graphic which can be used to compare and contrast two different things.

white dwarf

When a non-massive star runs out of fuel for nuclear fusion it collapses into itself. The leftover core is a compact star called a white dwarf.

x-ray telescope

A type of telescope which works by receiving x-ray signals. It is mainly used to observe space objects and events such as the Sun, stars and supernovae.

Yucatan Peninsula

Location of the Chicxulub Crater where a giant meteor landed 66 million years ago. Scientists think this meteor strike led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

zinc

One of the most common chemical elements in the Earth’s crust.

2Al

Activity 4.1.2 Objectives

Learning Goals

  • Identify physical and cognitive differences between humans and other species
  • Define collective learning
  • Understand what an anthropologist studies

Introduction

In Mission Phase 4 students will learn all about humans and how they came to be the most successful species on the planet. They will explore the positives and negatives of the connected world we live in today and begin to imagine what the future may hold for us all.

In this activity, students will begin exploring what it means to be human by learning about some of the physical and cognitive differences between humans and other species. And they will learn how one of those cognitive differences, the capacity for ‘collective learning,’ has particularly helped humans to become a uniquely successful species.


Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species

Ask students to watch Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species, which highlights some of the differences which have given humans an advantage over other animal species, including the important ability to store and share and build on information from generation to generation.

Advise students that once they have watched the video they will need to answer the following questions either as part of a class discussion; as a brief group/paired discussion before reporting their responses back to the class; or independently by writing their answers in their Big History School Junior journals.

  1. 1. What do anthropologists study?
    Answer:
    Anthropologists study the origins and development of humans and their cultures.
  2. 2. What are three physical differences between humans and other species?
    Answer:
    • Upright human skeleton
      Walking upright on two legs allows us to do multiple things at once. For example, hold a spear when hunting.
    • Lowered “voice box”
      Our lowered voice box allows us to make more precise sounds so that we can communicate with each other through speech.
    • Particular neuron cells in our large brain
      Humans have more of the neuron cells in our brains, which allow us to think more deeply and complete more complex tasks.
  3. 3. What are three cognitive differences between humans and other species?
    Answer:
    • Curiosity
      Humans wonder about things “just because” - we wonder about the Universe, our past and our future.
    • Creativity
      Humans love to create things for us to admire, to entertain us and to inspire us. For example, by writing poetry, painting art or telling stories through movies.
    • Collective Learning
      Only humans can share ideas so efficiently and so widely that we can learn collectively as a species. We have learned to store and share and build on information from generation to generation.
  4. 4. How has collective learning helped humans become so successful?
    Answer:
    Together with curiosity and creativity, collective learning has allowed each generation to build on information and invent new technologies which have led us to becoming one of the most successful species on the planet today.

Help students to visualise where ‘first humans’ appears on the History of the Universe Timeline.

If you have created a History of the Universe Timeline Display in your classroom, you may like to physically place ‘first humans’ on the timeline as a class. You will find a copy of Display: history of the Universe timeline in Helpful Resources.

Otherwise, you may ask students to refer back to the Timeline: history of the Universe worksheet they completed in Activity 1.2.2. You will find a copy of Timeline: history of the Universe example in Helpful Resources.


Download video

Helpful Resources

Display: History of the Universe

Timeline: history of the Universe example


Activity 4.1.2 Review

Conclusion

Students should now have a clearer idea about the differences between humans and other species. Ask them to think back to their responses in the Snap Judgement game.

Select some random responses and, as a class, evaluate the responses and discuss which claim testers the students were using in those responses.

At the conclusion of the discussion, take another informal tally of ‘Trust’ and ‘Don’t trust’ responses to each of the three claims to see if anyone has changed their minds after watching Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species. You may then like to share the answers from Claims: snap judgement human worksheet answers in Helpful Resources.

Helpful Resources

Claims: snap judgement human worksheet answers

Formative Assessment

Responses to Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species questions.
Responses to, and discussion about, human claims snap judgements.


Go to Activity 4.1.3   »

Course Glossary

accretion

The gradual process of matter being pulled together by gravity to make larger and larger clumps of matter.

adaptation

A special skill or physical feature which helps a species to survive and thrive in its environment. For example, a chameleon changing colour to camouflage itself.

aerial view

A view of something from the sky looking down.

agriculture

Also referred to as farming, agriculture is the practice of growing crops and raising animals. It is an innovation which has allowed human societies to expand and thrive.

AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a type of technology which can perceive things, interpret them and make decisions in a similar way to humans.

amphibian

Animals that evolved from fish to have gills so that they can live in water and also live and breathe on land.

anthropologist

A scientist who studies humans and human behaviour.

asteroids

Rocky bodies which are too small to be called planets.

astronomer

A scientist who studies the Universe and everything in it.

atmosphere

A thin layer of gases, otherwise known as air, that surrounds Earth and other planets.

atoms

Tiny particles which make up everything in the Universe.

authority

Someone who knows a lot about a subject and whose views are respected.

battery storage

A large battery that stores electrical energy which can then be used when other energy sources are not available.

Big Bang theory

Theory about how the Universe began 13.8 billion years ago. All matter, time, space and energy came from the Big Bang.

Big History

The history of the entire Universe beginning 13.8 billion years ago.

biochemist

A scientist who studies the chemistry of living things.

biologist

A scientist who studies living things.

black hole

An area in space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape from it – not even light.

brainstorming

A creative strategy for thinking about and sharing ideas to solve a challenge or task.

CBR

Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR) is the radiation left over from the initial energy of the Big Bang. It can be seen through powerful space telescopes.

chemical compounds

Chemical elements which have combined with different chemical elements. For example, hydrogen can combine with oxygen to create the chemical compound water (H2O).

chemical elements

Pure substances which are made from a single type of atom. For example, Helium.

chemist

A scientist who studies the substances that make up all the matter in the Universe.

claim

Information which is presented as fact – not an opinion.

cognitive

To do with mental activity such as thinking, using logic or remembering.

collective learning

The human ability to store and share and build on information from generation to generation.

comets

Balls of frozen gases, rock and dust which orbit the Sun.

community

A group of people who live together. They help each other and work together to solve problems.

compare

To look at what two or more things have in common with each other.

continental drift theory

A theory which states that the Earth’s continents were once joined together in one supercontinent, then broke up and slowly drifted apart.

contrast

To look at how two or more things are different to each other.

convergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates move towards each other.

cosmologist

A scientist who studies the structure and history of the Universe.

creative thinking

Thinking of new ways to solve problems, generate new explanations and/or create something original.

Critical thinking

Thinking which doesn’t rely on simply accepting what someone has said. It involves questioning, using logic and seeking information from experts before drawing a conclusion.

cross section

A view of something as if it has been sliced through with a knife.

digital technology

A term which covers electronic technologies such as computers, tablets and mobile phones.

disciplines

Different areas of knowledge, for example, natural sciences.

divergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates slide apart from each other.

Earth’s core

At its centre, Earth contains a solid inner core and a liquid outer core made of iron and nickel.

Earth’s crust

The layer that floats on top of the mantle and is made of lighter weight rocks and minerals.

electrical technology

Technologies which use electricity as their main power source, for example, light bulbs, electric motors and television.

energy sources

A resource which can be used to provide power. For example, fossil fuels like coal and oil; renewable resources like solar and wind or uranium for nuclear power.

engineer

An expert who designs and builds machines and structures.

evidence

Information which may support or disprove a claim.

evolution

The theory of evolution explains how all the species alive today generated from the first simple life forms on Earth.

exoplanets

Planets which orbit stars outside of our solar system.

expert

A person with a special skill or knowledge in a particular area.

flyby

A path followed by a spacecraft which has been sent close enough to a planet to record scientific data.

fossil fuels

A carbon- based material such as coal, oil, or natural gas that can be used as an energy source. Fossil fuels were originally formed when the remains of living organisms were buried and broken down by intense heat and pressure over millions of years.

gas giants

The four large outermost planets – Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter – which are mostly made of lighter chemical elements like Hydrogen and Helium.

geologist

A scientist who analyses rocks, minerals and landforms.

Goldilocks conditions

The ‘just right’ conditions for life to exist. For example, Earth has the right temperature range, a protective atmosphere and liquid water.

gravity

The energy force which tries to pull two objects toward each other. The bigger an object is, the stronger its gravitational pull.

Homo sapiens

Modern humans who first appeared 300,000 years ago. We are homo sapiens.

hunters and gatherers

Human societies which move from place to place to hunt meat and gather fruit and vegetables to survive.

industrial technology

Machines which operate on a large scale by using energy sources such as water, steam power, oil and coal.

innovation

Using existing knowledge to come up with new technologies or new ways of doing things.

intelligent life

Beings from other planets who are able to think, learn and understand. Scientists continue to search for intelligent life out in the Universe.

intuition

A ‘gut feeling’ that a claim may be true or false.

Jovian planets

The term Jovian planets refers to the large gassy planets furthest from the Sun - Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. They are also known as gas giants.

Karman line

An imaginary line 100 kms above the Earth’s crust where it has been internationally agreed the Earth’s atmosphere ends and space begins.

KWHLAQ chart

A visible framework which uses a series of step-by-step questions to provide guidance through the creative thinking process.

lander

A spacecraft which has been designed to make a soft landing on a planet or moon etc.

logic

Carefully thinking about a claim to decide whether it makes sense.

mantle

The layer that surrounds the Earth’s core and is made of minerals and rocks which slowly flow in a sludge of melted iron.

matter

Everything around us that has weight and takes up space. All matter is made up of atoms.

meteoroids

Otherwise known as shooting stars, meteoroids are small space rocks which burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

module

A self-contained unit which can be joined together with other units to build something more complex.

multi-planetary species

A species which lives on more than one planet. Humans could become the first known multi-planetary species by establishing a human habitat on Mars.

multicellular organisms

A complex organism which is made up of more than one cell. For example, animals and plants.

natural selection

The process by which individuals in a species who have more successful adaptations have more children, therefore passing their successful adaptations on to future generations.

nuclear fusion

The process of hydrogen atoms being crushed together in a star’s hot centre, releasing heat and energy for billions of years.

orbiter

A spacecraft designed to orbit a planet and collect scientific data over a long period of time.

overpopulation

When a population grows too big for the available resources, for example, food. Humans have, in the past, solved potential problems through innovations such as agriculture.

ozone layer

An invisible layer in Earth’s upper atmosphere which helps to protect us from the Sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays.

periodic table

A diagram of all the chemical elements in the Universe. It was created by a Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev.

quasars

Quasi Stellar Objects (Quasars) are believed to be the brightest and most distant objects in the Universe.

radiation

The transfer of energy (heat, sound or light) through waves. It can come from cosmic rays or from the Earth. Too much exposure to radiation is harmful to humans.

redshift

When a star or galaxy moves away, its light waves are stretched out and it has a red glow. This is called redshift and provides evidence that the Universe is expanding.

robotics

A type of technology which allows machines to be programmed to move and complete set tasks.

rocky planets

The four small inner planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars – which are mostly made of heavier chemical elements like iron.

rover

A moving robot which is sent to the surface of another planet to explore, collect scientific data and samples.

self-sustaining

Being able to exist for a long time without outside help by using resources responsibly.

single-celled organisms

A simple organism which is made up of only one cell. For example, simple bacteria.

singularity

The extremely small point which contained the ingredients for everything in the Universe. Everything was crushed together in this singularity at the moment of the Big Bang.

sol

The name of a solar day on Mars, which is 24.65 hours.

star

A massive sphere of very hot gas which makes its own light and energy through nuclear fusion.

supernova

The spectacular explosion which occurs when a massive star dies. It blows chemical elements out into the Universe.

survive

To be able to continue to live. For example, having enough food to avoid dying of starvation.

technology

New tools or methods, developed through the use of scientific knowledge, which can be used to solve problems.

tectonic plates

The large solid-rock moving pieces which make up the Earth’s crust.

thrive

To be able to grow, be successful and become stronger. For example, humans thrive when they are part of a connected community.

timeline

A graphic which includes a list of events placed in the order that they happened.

transform boundary

Where two tectonic plates meet and try to move past each other.

uranium

A chemical element which is found in the Earth’s crust and is used as an energy source in nuclear power plants.

venn diagram

A visual graphic which can be used to compare and contrast two different things.

white dwarf

When a non-massive star runs out of fuel for nuclear fusion it collapses into itself. The leftover core is a compact star called a white dwarf.

x-ray telescope

A type of telescope which works by receiving x-ray signals. It is mainly used to observe space objects and events such as the Sun, stars and supernovae.

Yucatan Peninsula

Location of the Chicxulub Crater where a giant meteor landed 66 million years ago. Scientists think this meteor strike led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

zinc

One of the most common chemical elements in the Earth’s crust.

2Al

Activity 4.1.3 Objectives

Learning Goals

  • Identify physical and cognitive differences between humans and other species

Introduction

Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species highlighted three physical differences which give humans an advantage over other animal species. An additional physical difference is the opposable thumb.

While there are other animals which have opposable thumbs, especially other primates, the human thumb is more flexible than most. It is a physical adaptation which, together with our advanced cognitive abilities, has allowed us to do quite sophisticated things like communicate through writing.

To help students understand how an opposable thumb helps to make humans one of the most successful animal species, they will undertake a hands-on opposable thumb experiment.


Demo: opposable thumbs

In this demonstration students will choose at least six tasks that they normally find quite simple to complete and then try to carry out that task without the help of their opposable thumb.

Hand out the Demo: opposable thumbs worksheet to students and go through the suggested tasks with them:

  • Fold a piece of paper into quarters
  • Use a pen to write a sentence
  • Tie a knot on a string or shoelaces
  • Tap out a rhythm on a tabletop
  • Twist a lid off a bottle
  • Turn on a tap
  • Cut a piece of paper with scissors.

Ask students to then follow the step-by-step instructions on the Demo: opposable thumbs worksheet:

  • Step 1: Locate the materials you need to carry out your chosen tasks.
  • Step 2: Have your classmate gently wrap sticky tape around your thumb and forefinger. If you are right-handed, tape your right hand. If you are left-handed, tape your left hand.
  • Step 3: Try each of your chosen tasks with your taped hand.
  • Step 4: Refer to the Results Table. Under the heading ‘Task’ describe the task you performed. Under the heading ‘Could it be done without an opposable thumb?’ tick the relevant box.
  • Step 5: Answer the reflection questions.

4.1.3 - Demo - Opposable Thumbs


Activity 4.1.3 Review

Conclusion

Ask students to share with the class their answers to the reflection questions on their worksheets:

  • Which types of tasks were you still able to complete without thumbs? Why?
    (Tasks which don’t require fine motor skills would be the easiest to complete without thumbs. For example, tapping a rhythm.)
  • Which types of tasks were you unable to complete without thumbs? Why?
    (Tasks which require fine motor skills would be the most difficult to complete without thumbs. For example, cutting with scissors requires the ability to use the thumb separately to the other fingers.)
  • How do you think having opposable thumbs has helped to make humans so successful?
    (In early humans it allowed them to climb trees, make and manipulate weapons and collect certain foods. As humans evolved, it has meant we can do more sophisticated things like write which allows us to pass information on through the generations and contributes to our collective learning.)

Formative Assessment

Participation in opposable thumb demonstration.
Responses to Demo: opposable thumbs reflection questions.


Go to Activity 4.1.4   »

Course Glossary

accretion

The gradual process of matter being pulled together by gravity to make larger and larger clumps of matter.

adaptation

A special skill or physical feature which helps a species to survive and thrive in its environment. For example, a chameleon changing colour to camouflage itself.

aerial view

A view of something from the sky looking down.

agriculture

Also referred to as farming, agriculture is the practice of growing crops and raising animals. It is an innovation which has allowed human societies to expand and thrive.

AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a type of technology which can perceive things, interpret them and make decisions in a similar way to humans.

amphibian

Animals that evolved from fish to have gills so that they can live in water and also live and breathe on land.

anthropologist

A scientist who studies humans and human behaviour.

asteroids

Rocky bodies which are too small to be called planets.

astronomer

A scientist who studies the Universe and everything in it.

atmosphere

A thin layer of gases, otherwise known as air, that surrounds Earth and other planets.

atoms

Tiny particles which make up everything in the Universe.

authority

Someone who knows a lot about a subject and whose views are respected.

battery storage

A large battery that stores electrical energy which can then be used when other energy sources are not available.

Big Bang theory

Theory about how the Universe began 13.8 billion years ago. All matter, time, space and energy came from the Big Bang.

Big History

The history of the entire Universe beginning 13.8 billion years ago.

biochemist

A scientist who studies the chemistry of living things.

biologist

A scientist who studies living things.

black hole

An area in space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape from it – not even light.

brainstorming

A creative strategy for thinking about and sharing ideas to solve a challenge or task.

CBR

Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR) is the radiation left over from the initial energy of the Big Bang. It can be seen through powerful space telescopes.

chemical compounds

Chemical elements which have combined with different chemical elements. For example, hydrogen can combine with oxygen to create the chemical compound water (H2O).

chemical elements

Pure substances which are made from a single type of atom. For example, Helium.

chemist

A scientist who studies the substances that make up all the matter in the Universe.

claim

Information which is presented as fact – not an opinion.

cognitive

To do with mental activity such as thinking, using logic or remembering.

collective learning

The human ability to store and share and build on information from generation to generation.

comets

Balls of frozen gases, rock and dust which orbit the Sun.

community

A group of people who live together. They help each other and work together to solve problems.

compare

To look at what two or more things have in common with each other.

continental drift theory

A theory which states that the Earth’s continents were once joined together in one supercontinent, then broke up and slowly drifted apart.

contrast

To look at how two or more things are different to each other.

convergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates move towards each other.

cosmologist

A scientist who studies the structure and history of the Universe.

creative thinking

Thinking of new ways to solve problems, generate new explanations and/or create something original.

Critical thinking

Thinking which doesn’t rely on simply accepting what someone has said. It involves questioning, using logic and seeking information from experts before drawing a conclusion.

cross section

A view of something as if it has been sliced through with a knife.

digital technology

A term which covers electronic technologies such as computers, tablets and mobile phones.

disciplines

Different areas of knowledge, for example, natural sciences.

divergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates slide apart from each other.

Earth’s core

At its centre, Earth contains a solid inner core and a liquid outer core made of iron and nickel.

Earth’s crust

The layer that floats on top of the mantle and is made of lighter weight rocks and minerals.

electrical technology

Technologies which use electricity as their main power source, for example, light bulbs, electric motors and television.

energy sources

A resource which can be used to provide power. For example, fossil fuels like coal and oil; renewable resources like solar and wind or uranium for nuclear power.

engineer

An expert who designs and builds machines and structures.

evidence

Information which may support or disprove a claim.

evolution

The theory of evolution explains how all the species alive today generated from the first simple life forms on Earth.

exoplanets

Planets which orbit stars outside of our solar system.

expert

A person with a special skill or knowledge in a particular area.

flyby

A path followed by a spacecraft which has been sent close enough to a planet to record scientific data.

fossil fuels

A carbon- based material such as coal, oil, or natural gas that can be used as an energy source. Fossil fuels were originally formed when the remains of living organisms were buried and broken down by intense heat and pressure over millions of years.

gas giants

The four large outermost planets – Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter – which are mostly made of lighter chemical elements like Hydrogen and Helium.

geologist

A scientist who analyses rocks, minerals and landforms.

Goldilocks conditions

The ‘just right’ conditions for life to exist. For example, Earth has the right temperature range, a protective atmosphere and liquid water.

gravity

The energy force which tries to pull two objects toward each other. The bigger an object is, the stronger its gravitational pull.

Homo sapiens

Modern humans who first appeared 300,000 years ago. We are homo sapiens.

hunters and gatherers

Human societies which move from place to place to hunt meat and gather fruit and vegetables to survive.

industrial technology

Machines which operate on a large scale by using energy sources such as water, steam power, oil and coal.

innovation

Using existing knowledge to come up with new technologies or new ways of doing things.

intelligent life

Beings from other planets who are able to think, learn and understand. Scientists continue to search for intelligent life out in the Universe.

intuition

A ‘gut feeling’ that a claim may be true or false.

Jovian planets

The term Jovian planets refers to the large gassy planets furthest from the Sun - Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. They are also known as gas giants.

Karman line

An imaginary line 100 kms above the Earth’s crust where it has been internationally agreed the Earth’s atmosphere ends and space begins.

KWHLAQ chart

A visible framework which uses a series of step-by-step questions to provide guidance through the creative thinking process.

lander

A spacecraft which has been designed to make a soft landing on a planet or moon etc.

logic

Carefully thinking about a claim to decide whether it makes sense.

mantle

The layer that surrounds the Earth’s core and is made of minerals and rocks which slowly flow in a sludge of melted iron.

matter

Everything around us that has weight and takes up space. All matter is made up of atoms.

meteoroids

Otherwise known as shooting stars, meteoroids are small space rocks which burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

module

A self-contained unit which can be joined together with other units to build something more complex.

multi-planetary species

A species which lives on more than one planet. Humans could become the first known multi-planetary species by establishing a human habitat on Mars.

multicellular organisms

A complex organism which is made up of more than one cell. For example, animals and plants.

natural selection

The process by which individuals in a species who have more successful adaptations have more children, therefore passing their successful adaptations on to future generations.

nuclear fusion

The process of hydrogen atoms being crushed together in a star’s hot centre, releasing heat and energy for billions of years.

orbiter

A spacecraft designed to orbit a planet and collect scientific data over a long period of time.

overpopulation

When a population grows too big for the available resources, for example, food. Humans have, in the past, solved potential problems through innovations such as agriculture.

ozone layer

An invisible layer in Earth’s upper atmosphere which helps to protect us from the Sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays.

periodic table

A diagram of all the chemical elements in the Universe. It was created by a Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev.

quasars

Quasi Stellar Objects (Quasars) are believed to be the brightest and most distant objects in the Universe.

radiation

The transfer of energy (heat, sound or light) through waves. It can come from cosmic rays or from the Earth. Too much exposure to radiation is harmful to humans.

redshift

When a star or galaxy moves away, its light waves are stretched out and it has a red glow. This is called redshift and provides evidence that the Universe is expanding.

robotics

A type of technology which allows machines to be programmed to move and complete set tasks.

rocky planets

The four small inner planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars – which are mostly made of heavier chemical elements like iron.

rover

A moving robot which is sent to the surface of another planet to explore, collect scientific data and samples.

self-sustaining

Being able to exist for a long time without outside help by using resources responsibly.

single-celled organisms

A simple organism which is made up of only one cell. For example, simple bacteria.

singularity

The extremely small point which contained the ingredients for everything in the Universe. Everything was crushed together in this singularity at the moment of the Big Bang.

sol

The name of a solar day on Mars, which is 24.65 hours.

star

A massive sphere of very hot gas which makes its own light and energy through nuclear fusion.

supernova

The spectacular explosion which occurs when a massive star dies. It blows chemical elements out into the Universe.

survive

To be able to continue to live. For example, having enough food to avoid dying of starvation.

technology

New tools or methods, developed through the use of scientific knowledge, which can be used to solve problems.

tectonic plates

The large solid-rock moving pieces which make up the Earth’s crust.

thrive

To be able to grow, be successful and become stronger. For example, humans thrive when they are part of a connected community.

timeline

A graphic which includes a list of events placed in the order that they happened.

transform boundary

Where two tectonic plates meet and try to move past each other.

uranium

A chemical element which is found in the Earth’s crust and is used as an energy source in nuclear power plants.

venn diagram

A visual graphic which can be used to compare and contrast two different things.

white dwarf

When a non-massive star runs out of fuel for nuclear fusion it collapses into itself. The leftover core is a compact star called a white dwarf.

x-ray telescope

A type of telescope which works by receiving x-ray signals. It is mainly used to observe space objects and events such as the Sun, stars and supernovae.

Yucatan Peninsula

Location of the Chicxulub Crater where a giant meteor landed 66 million years ago. Scientists think this meteor strike led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

zinc

One of the most common chemical elements in the Earth’s crust.

2Al

Activity 4.1.4 Objectives

Learning Goals

  • Identify key developments in the history of technological innovation
  • Begin to understand the link between collective learning, technological innovation and population growth

Introduction

In the previous activities students learned about how humans are different to other animal species and were introduced to the concept of collective learning. In this activity students will see how collective learning, over time, has led to waves of technological innovation and how these technological advances have led to the world that we live in today.


Mission video 21: Collective learning and technological innovation

Ask students to watch Mission video 21: Collective learning and technological innovation which shows how technological innovation has led to humans living very different lives today compared to the hunter & gatherer lives they lived 300,000 (3 lakh) years ago.

Advise students that once they have watched the video they will need to answer the following questions either as part of a class discussion; as a brief group/paired discussion before reporting their responses back to the class; or independently by writing their answers in their Big History School Junior journals.

  1. 1. How did humans live 300,000 (3 lakh) years ago?
    Answer:
    Humans lived in hunter and gatherer societies. They moved from place to place hunting meat and gathering fruit, grains and vegetables.
  2. 2. Which wave of innovation began 12,000 years ago?
    Answer:
    Farming Innovation
    Instead of hunting, humans learned to domesticate animals - they would raise goats sheep and chickens for meat, milk and eggs. And instead of gathering, they learned how to plant and grow fruits, grains and vegetables.
  3. 3. Which wave of innovation began 200 years ago?
    Answer:
    Industrial Innovation
    New machines which used new sources of energy - water and steam power, oil and coal - meant goods could be made at a much larger scale in factories. New technologies and new types of transport - like steam trains and steamships - meant a very different way of life for many.
  4. 4. Which wave of innovation began 100 years ago?
    Answer:
    Electrical Innovation
    Electricity replaced steam as the main power source in industry, communications and transport. This led to all sorts of new technologies such as cars, electric trains, aeroplanes, telephones, radios, TVS etc.
  5. 5. Which wave of innovation began 20 years ago?
    Answer:
    Digital Innovation
    Computer technology and the internet has changed the way we communicate, learn and work. It has led to GPS tracking, video games, social media etc.
  6. 6. Which wave of innovation is happening right now?
    Answer:
    Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
    Artificial intelligence is the ability of a computer to think and make decisions just like a human would. In the field of robotics, machines are completing more complex tasks and some even copy human expressions.
  7. 7. What effect has each wave of innovation had on the human population?
    Answer:
    Innovation = Population Increase = more collective learning = more innovation = population increase etc.
    The human population was stable for the first 300,000 (3 lakh) years or so. There was an increase after the farming innovation wave and then an explosion after the industrial innovation wave. The human population is continuing to increase very quickly as our collective learning and technological innovation accelerates.

Download video


Activity 4.1.4 Review

Conclusion

Mission video 21: Collective learning and technological innovation explained the connection between collective learning, technological innovation and population growth. In Helpful Resources you will find a link to a video which traces human population growth from about 2000 years ago to the the year 2050 on a map. Show students the video and ask them to pay particular attention to the moments when the biggest jumps in population growth occur. Do they coincide with waves of innovation, for example, industrial innovation which began in the 1800s? Are there any other examples of significant jumps in population?

Helpful Resources

http://worldpopulationhistory.org/map/101/mercator/1/0/25/

Formative Assessment

Responses to Mission video 21: Collective learning and technological innovation questions.


Go to Activity 4.1.5   »

Course Glossary

accretion

The gradual process of matter being pulled together by gravity to make larger and larger clumps of matter.

adaptation

A special skill or physical feature which helps a species to survive and thrive in its environment. For example, a chameleon changing colour to camouflage itself.

aerial view

A view of something from the sky looking down.

agriculture

Also referred to as farming, agriculture is the practice of growing crops and raising animals. It is an innovation which has allowed human societies to expand and thrive.

AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a type of technology which can perceive things, interpret them and make decisions in a similar way to humans.

amphibian

Animals that evolved from fish to have gills so that they can live in water and also live and breathe on land.

anthropologist

A scientist who studies humans and human behaviour.

asteroids

Rocky bodies which are too small to be called planets.

astronomer

A scientist who studies the Universe and everything in it.

atmosphere

A thin layer of gases, otherwise known as air, that surrounds Earth and other planets.

atoms

Tiny particles which make up everything in the Universe.

authority

Someone who knows a lot about a subject and whose views are respected.

battery storage

A large battery that stores electrical energy which can then be used when other energy sources are not available.

Big Bang theory

Theory about how the Universe began 13.8 billion years ago. All matter, time, space and energy came from the Big Bang.

Big History

The history of the entire Universe beginning 13.8 billion years ago.

biochemist

A scientist who studies the chemistry of living things.

biologist

A scientist who studies living things.

black hole

An area in space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape from it – not even light.

brainstorming

A creative strategy for thinking about and sharing ideas to solve a challenge or task.

CBR

Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR) is the radiation left over from the initial energy of the Big Bang. It can be seen through powerful space telescopes.

chemical compounds

Chemical elements which have combined with different chemical elements. For example, hydrogen can combine with oxygen to create the chemical compound water (H2O).

chemical elements

Pure substances which are made from a single type of atom. For example, Helium.

chemist

A scientist who studies the substances that make up all the matter in the Universe.

claim

Information which is presented as fact – not an opinion.

cognitive

To do with mental activity such as thinking, using logic or remembering.

collective learning

The human ability to store and share and build on information from generation to generation.

comets

Balls of frozen gases, rock and dust which orbit the Sun.

community

A group of people who live together. They help each other and work together to solve problems.

compare

To look at what two or more things have in common with each other.

continental drift theory

A theory which states that the Earth’s continents were once joined together in one supercontinent, then broke up and slowly drifted apart.

contrast

To look at how two or more things are different to each other.

convergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates move towards each other.

cosmologist

A scientist who studies the structure and history of the Universe.

creative thinking

Thinking of new ways to solve problems, generate new explanations and/or create something original.

Critical thinking

Thinking which doesn’t rely on simply accepting what someone has said. It involves questioning, using logic and seeking information from experts before drawing a conclusion.

cross section

A view of something as if it has been sliced through with a knife.

digital technology

A term which covers electronic technologies such as computers, tablets and mobile phones.

disciplines

Different areas of knowledge, for example, natural sciences.

divergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates slide apart from each other.

Earth’s core

At its centre, Earth contains a solid inner core and a liquid outer core made of iron and nickel.

Earth’s crust

The layer that floats on top of the mantle and is made of lighter weight rocks and minerals.

electrical technology

Technologies which use electricity as their main power source, for example, light bulbs, electric motors and television.

energy sources

A resource which can be used to provide power. For example, fossil fuels like coal and oil; renewable resources like solar and wind or uranium for nuclear power.

engineer

An expert who designs and builds machines and structures.

evidence

Information which may support or disprove a claim.

evolution

The theory of evolution explains how all the species alive today generated from the first simple life forms on Earth.

exoplanets

Planets which orbit stars outside of our solar system.

expert

A person with a special skill or knowledge in a particular area.

flyby

A path followed by a spacecraft which has been sent close enough to a planet to record scientific data.

fossil fuels

A carbon- based material such as coal, oil, or natural gas that can be used as an energy source. Fossil fuels were originally formed when the remains of living organisms were buried and broken down by intense heat and pressure over millions of years.

gas giants

The four large outermost planets – Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter – which are mostly made of lighter chemical elements like Hydrogen and Helium.

geologist

A scientist who analyses rocks, minerals and landforms.

Goldilocks conditions

The ‘just right’ conditions for life to exist. For example, Earth has the right temperature range, a protective atmosphere and liquid water.

gravity

The energy force which tries to pull two objects toward each other. The bigger an object is, the stronger its gravitational pull.

Homo sapiens

Modern humans who first appeared 300,000 years ago. We are homo sapiens.

hunters and gatherers

Human societies which move from place to place to hunt meat and gather fruit and vegetables to survive.

industrial technology

Machines which operate on a large scale by using energy sources such as water, steam power, oil and coal.

innovation

Using existing knowledge to come up with new technologies or new ways of doing things.

intelligent life

Beings from other planets who are able to think, learn and understand. Scientists continue to search for intelligent life out in the Universe.

intuition

A ‘gut feeling’ that a claim may be true or false.

Jovian planets

The term Jovian planets refers to the large gassy planets furthest from the Sun - Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. They are also known as gas giants.

Karman line

An imaginary line 100 kms above the Earth’s crust where it has been internationally agreed the Earth’s atmosphere ends and space begins.

KWHLAQ chart

A visible framework which uses a series of step-by-step questions to provide guidance through the creative thinking process.

lander

A spacecraft which has been designed to make a soft landing on a planet or moon etc.

logic

Carefully thinking about a claim to decide whether it makes sense.

mantle

The layer that surrounds the Earth’s core and is made of minerals and rocks which slowly flow in a sludge of melted iron.

matter

Everything around us that has weight and takes up space. All matter is made up of atoms.

meteoroids

Otherwise known as shooting stars, meteoroids are small space rocks which burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

module

A self-contained unit which can be joined together with other units to build something more complex.

multi-planetary species

A species which lives on more than one planet. Humans could become the first known multi-planetary species by establishing a human habitat on Mars.

multicellular organisms

A complex organism which is made up of more than one cell. For example, animals and plants.

natural selection

The process by which individuals in a species who have more successful adaptations have more children, therefore passing their successful adaptations on to future generations.

nuclear fusion

The process of hydrogen atoms being crushed together in a star’s hot centre, releasing heat and energy for billions of years.

orbiter

A spacecraft designed to orbit a planet and collect scientific data over a long period of time.

overpopulation

When a population grows too big for the available resources, for example, food. Humans have, in the past, solved potential problems through innovations such as agriculture.

ozone layer

An invisible layer in Earth’s upper atmosphere which helps to protect us from the Sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays.

periodic table

A diagram of all the chemical elements in the Universe. It was created by a Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev.

quasars

Quasi Stellar Objects (Quasars) are believed to be the brightest and most distant objects in the Universe.

radiation

The transfer of energy (heat, sound or light) through waves. It can come from cosmic rays or from the Earth. Too much exposure to radiation is harmful to humans.

redshift

When a star or galaxy moves away, its light waves are stretched out and it has a red glow. This is called redshift and provides evidence that the Universe is expanding.

robotics

A type of technology which allows machines to be programmed to move and complete set tasks.

rocky planets

The four small inner planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars – which are mostly made of heavier chemical elements like iron.

rover

A moving robot which is sent to the surface of another planet to explore, collect scientific data and samples.

self-sustaining

Being able to exist for a long time without outside help by using resources responsibly.

single-celled organisms

A simple organism which is made up of only one cell. For example, simple bacteria.

singularity

The extremely small point which contained the ingredients for everything in the Universe. Everything was crushed together in this singularity at the moment of the Big Bang.

sol

The name of a solar day on Mars, which is 24.65 hours.

star

A massive sphere of very hot gas which makes its own light and energy through nuclear fusion.

supernova

The spectacular explosion which occurs when a massive star dies. It blows chemical elements out into the Universe.

survive

To be able to continue to live. For example, having enough food to avoid dying of starvation.

technology

New tools or methods, developed through the use of scientific knowledge, which can be used to solve problems.

tectonic plates

The large solid-rock moving pieces which make up the Earth’s crust.

thrive

To be able to grow, be successful and become stronger. For example, humans thrive when they are part of a connected community.

timeline

A graphic which includes a list of events placed in the order that they happened.

transform boundary

Where two tectonic plates meet and try to move past each other.

uranium

A chemical element which is found in the Earth’s crust and is used as an energy source in nuclear power plants.

venn diagram

A visual graphic which can be used to compare and contrast two different things.

white dwarf

When a non-massive star runs out of fuel for nuclear fusion it collapses into itself. The leftover core is a compact star called a white dwarf.

x-ray telescope

A type of telescope which works by receiving x-ray signals. It is mainly used to observe space objects and events such as the Sun, stars and supernovae.

Yucatan Peninsula

Location of the Chicxulub Crater where a giant meteor landed 66 million years ago. Scientists think this meteor strike led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

zinc

One of the most common chemical elements in the Earth’s crust.

2Al

Activity 4.1.5 Objectives

Learning Goals

  • Identify key developments in the history of technological innovation
  • Begin to understand the link between collective learning, technological innovation and population growth

Introduction

Mission video 21: Collective learning and technological innovation explored how, over hundreds of thousands of years, collective learning led to waves of technological innovation which have made us the uniquely successful species we are today.

In this activity students will place the most important waves of technological innovation in chronological order on a timeline.


Timeline: technological innovation

Display Timeline: technological innovation for students. Ask students what they notice about the timeline. Some features which you may like to discuss:

  • The timeline begins 300,000 years ago when humans lived as hunter-gatherers
  • There is a huge gap before the first wave of innovation which doesn’t happen until 12,000 years ago (farming innovation)
  • There is another big gap before the next wave of innovation which doesn’t happen until 200 years ago (industrial innovation)
  • There is a smaller gap before the next wave of innovation which happens 100 years ago (electrical innovation)
  • There is a much smaller gap before the next wave of innovation which happens 20 years ago (digital innovation)
  • The last wave of innovation is occurring now and into the future (AI & Robotics)
  • Overall, the timeline shows how the waves of innovation are occurring closer and closer together

Provide students with the strips of five “Innovations” which are to be cut and pasted into the correct boxes on Timeline: technological innovation. Students then answer the question, ‘What is the link between collective learning, technological innovation and population growth?’

4.1.5 - Timeline - Technological Innovation


Activity 4.1.5 Review

Conclusion

Ask students to share their completed timelines and their answers to the question on their worksheet: ‘What is the link between collective learning, technological innovation and population growth?’
Answer:
(It is a cycle. For example, as farmers learned more about farming they invented new technologies like the animal-powered plough. They were therefore able to grow more food which led to population growth. When there are more people living together, more collective learning can occur which leads to more technological innovation etc.)

As a fun final reflection on the differences between our lives and those of humans who lived in the stone ages around 12,000 years ago, watch the BBC video clip in Helpful Resources. Once they have watched the video ask students what differences they notice between the life of a 10 year old 12,000 years ago compared to their lives today. Which technologies do 10 year olds use and enjoy today that were not available 12,000 years ago? And who has it better - the Stone-Agers or us?

Helpful Resources

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE6OeRZB_Wc

Formative Assessment

Completed Timeline: technological innovation worksheet.


Go to Learning summary   »

Course Glossary

accretion

The gradual process of matter being pulled together by gravity to make larger and larger clumps of matter.

adaptation

A special skill or physical feature which helps a species to survive and thrive in its environment. For example, a chameleon changing colour to camouflage itself.

aerial view

A view of something from the sky looking down.

agriculture

Also referred to as farming, agriculture is the practice of growing crops and raising animals. It is an innovation which has allowed human societies to expand and thrive.

AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a type of technology which can perceive things, interpret them and make decisions in a similar way to humans.

amphibian

Animals that evolved from fish to have gills so that they can live in water and also live and breathe on land.

anthropologist

A scientist who studies humans and human behaviour.

asteroids

Rocky bodies which are too small to be called planets.

astronomer

A scientist who studies the Universe and everything in it.

atmosphere

A thin layer of gases, otherwise known as air, that surrounds Earth and other planets.

atoms

Tiny particles which make up everything in the Universe.

authority

Someone who knows a lot about a subject and whose views are respected.

battery storage

A large battery that stores electrical energy which can then be used when other energy sources are not available.

Big Bang theory

Theory about how the Universe began 13.8 billion years ago. All matter, time, space and energy came from the Big Bang.

Big History

The history of the entire Universe beginning 13.8 billion years ago.

biochemist

A scientist who studies the chemistry of living things.

biologist

A scientist who studies living things.

black hole

An area in space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape from it – not even light.

brainstorming

A creative strategy for thinking about and sharing ideas to solve a challenge or task.

CBR

Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR) is the radiation left over from the initial energy of the Big Bang. It can be seen through powerful space telescopes.

chemical compounds

Chemical elements which have combined with different chemical elements. For example, hydrogen can combine with oxygen to create the chemical compound water (H2O).

chemical elements

Pure substances which are made from a single type of atom. For example, Helium.

chemist

A scientist who studies the substances that make up all the matter in the Universe.

claim

Information which is presented as fact – not an opinion.

cognitive

To do with mental activity such as thinking, using logic or remembering.

collective learning

The human ability to store and share and build on information from generation to generation.

comets

Balls of frozen gases, rock and dust which orbit the Sun.

community

A group of people who live together. They help each other and work together to solve problems.

compare

To look at what two or more things have in common with each other.

continental drift theory

A theory which states that the Earth’s continents were once joined together in one supercontinent, then broke up and slowly drifted apart.

contrast

To look at how two or more things are different to each other.

convergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates move towards each other.

cosmologist

A scientist who studies the structure and history of the Universe.

creative thinking

Thinking of new ways to solve problems, generate new explanations and/or create something original.

Critical thinking

Thinking which doesn’t rely on simply accepting what someone has said. It involves questioning, using logic and seeking information from experts before drawing a conclusion.

cross section

A view of something as if it has been sliced through with a knife.

digital technology

A term which covers electronic technologies such as computers, tablets and mobile phones.

disciplines

Different areas of knowledge, for example, natural sciences.

divergent boundary

Where two tectonic plates slide apart from each other.

Earth’s core

At its centre, Earth contains a solid inner core and a liquid outer core made of iron and nickel.

Earth’s crust

The layer that floats on top of the mantle and is made of lighter weight rocks and minerals.

electrical technology

Technologies which use electricity as their main power source, for example, light bulbs, electric motors and television.

energy sources

A resource which can be used to provide power. For example, fossil fuels like coal and oil; renewable resources like solar and wind or uranium for nuclear power.

engineer

An expert who designs and builds machines and structures.

evidence

Information which may support or disprove a claim.

evolution

The theory of evolution explains how all the species alive today generated from the first simple life forms on Earth.

exoplanets

Planets which orbit stars outside of our solar system.

expert

A person with a special skill or knowledge in a particular area.

flyby

A path followed by a spacecraft which has been sent close enough to a planet to record scientific data.

fossil fuels

A carbon- based material such as coal, oil, or natural gas that can be used as an energy source. Fossil fuels were originally formed when the remains of living organisms were buried and broken down by intense heat and pressure over millions of years.

gas giants

The four large outermost planets – Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter – which are mostly made of lighter chemical elements like Hydrogen and Helium.

geologist

A scientist who analyses rocks, minerals and landforms.

Goldilocks conditions

The ‘just right’ conditions for life to exist. For example, Earth has the right temperature range, a protective atmosphere and liquid water.

gravity

The energy force which tries to pull two objects toward each other. The bigger an object is, the stronger its gravitational pull.

Homo sapiens

Modern humans who first appeared 300,000 years ago. We are homo sapiens.

hunters and gatherers

Human societies which move from place to place to hunt meat and gather fruit and vegetables to survive.

industrial technology

Machines which operate on a large scale by using energy sources such as water, steam power, oil and coal.

innovation

Using existing knowledge to come up with new technologies or new ways of doing things.

intelligent life

Beings from other planets who are able to think, learn and understand. Scientists continue to search for intelligent life out in the Universe.

intuition

A ‘gut feeling’ that a claim may be true or false.

Jovian planets

The term Jovian planets refers to the large gassy planets furthest from the Sun - Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter. They are also known as gas giants.

Karman line

An imaginary line 100 kms above the Earth’s crust where it has been internationally agreed the Earth’s atmosphere ends and space begins.

KWHLAQ chart

A visible framework which uses a series of step-by-step questions to provide guidance through the creative thinking process.

lander

A spacecraft which has been designed to make a soft landing on a planet or moon etc.

logic

Carefully thinking about a claim to decide whether it makes sense.

mantle

The layer that surrounds the Earth’s core and is made of minerals and rocks which slowly flow in a sludge of melted iron.

matter

Everything around us that has weight and takes up space. All matter is made up of atoms.

meteoroids

Otherwise known as shooting stars, meteoroids are small space rocks which burn up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

module

A self-contained unit which can be joined together with other units to build something more complex.

multi-planetary species

A species which lives on more than one planet. Humans could become the first known multi-planetary species by establishing a human habitat on Mars.

multicellular organisms

A complex organism which is made up of more than one cell. For example, animals and plants.

natural selection

The process by which individuals in a species who have more successful adaptations have more children, therefore passing their successful adaptations on to future generations.

nuclear fusion

The process of hydrogen atoms being crushed together in a star’s hot centre, releasing heat and energy for billions of years.

orbiter

A spacecraft designed to orbit a planet and collect scientific data over a long period of time.

overpopulation

When a population grows too big for the available resources, for example, food. Humans have, in the past, solved potential problems through innovations such as agriculture.

ozone layer

An invisible layer in Earth’s upper atmosphere which helps to protect us from the Sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays.

periodic table

A diagram of all the chemical elements in the Universe. It was created by a Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev.

quasars

Quasi Stellar Objects (Quasars) are believed to be the brightest and most distant objects in the Universe.

radiation

The transfer of energy (heat, sound or light) through waves. It can come from cosmic rays or from the Earth. Too much exposure to radiation is harmful to humans.

redshift

When a star or galaxy moves away, its light waves are stretched out and it has a red glow. This is called redshift and provides evidence that the Universe is expanding.

robotics

A type of technology which allows machines to be programmed to move and complete set tasks.

rocky planets

The four small inner planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars – which are mostly made of heavier chemical elements like iron.

rover

A moving robot which is sent to the surface of another planet to explore, collect scientific data and samples.

self-sustaining

Being able to exist for a long time without outside help by using resources responsibly.

single-celled organisms

A simple organism which is made up of only one cell. For example, simple bacteria.

singularity

The extremely small point which contained the ingredients for everything in the Universe. Everything was crushed together in this singularity at the moment of the Big Bang.

sol

The name of a solar day on Mars, which is 24.65 hours.

star

A massive sphere of very hot gas which makes its own light and energy through nuclear fusion.

supernova

The spectacular explosion which occurs when a massive star dies. It blows chemical elements out into the Universe.

survive

To be able to continue to live. For example, having enough food to avoid dying of starvation.

technology

New tools or methods, developed through the use of scientific knowledge, which can be used to solve problems.

tectonic plates

The large solid-rock moving pieces which make up the Earth’s crust.

thrive

To be able to grow, be successful and become stronger. For example, humans thrive when they are part of a connected community.

timeline

A graphic which includes a list of events placed in the order that they happened.

transform boundary

Where two tectonic plates meet and try to move past each other.

uranium

A chemical element which is found in the Earth’s crust and is used as an energy source in nuclear power plants.

venn diagram

A visual graphic which can be used to compare and contrast two different things.

white dwarf

When a non-massive star runs out of fuel for nuclear fusion it collapses into itself. The leftover core is a compact star called a white dwarf.

x-ray telescope

A type of telescope which works by receiving x-ray signals. It is mainly used to observe space objects and events such as the Sun, stars and supernovae.

Yucatan Peninsula

Location of the Chicxulub Crater where a giant meteor landed 66 million years ago. Scientists think this meteor strike led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

zinc

One of the most common chemical elements in the Earth’s crust.

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Learning summary

What makes humans uniquely successful?

In What make humans uniquely successful students learned about the differences between humans and other species and how collective learning led to the technological innovations which shape our connected world.

Ask students to revisit their What makes humans uniquely successful? learning goals and read through them carefully. As they read each learning goal they should tick the check box beside it if they are confident they have achieved that learning goal.

If there are any learning goals that students aren’t confident about, you may like to:

  • suggest that the student/s re-watch the Mission video which relates to that learning goal
  • ask more confident students to explain their understanding
  • organise a one-on-one or small group conference.

Junior Post 4.1



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