Learning plan

What makes humans uniquely successful?

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

To get started, read carefully through the What makes humans uniquely successful? learning goals below. Make sure you tick each of the check boxes to show that you have read all your What makes humans uniquely successful? learning goals.

As you read through the learning goals you may come across some words that you haven’t heard before. Please don’t worry. By the time you finish What makes humans uniquely successful? you will have become very familiar with them!

You will come back to these learning goals at the end of What makes humans uniquely successful? to see if you have confidently 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

You may remember from your pre-mission critical thinking skills training that a ‘claim’ is information that someone presents as fact - not an opinion. They are asking you to trust that what they are saying is based on reliable information.

You’ve probably heard a lot of claims about the differences between humans and other species. Well before you explore ‘humans’ any further, you’re going to play a game of Snap Judgement. In this game you will have to decide which claims about ‘humans’ you trust and which ones you don’t trust. Once you watch Mission Video 20: Differences between humans and other species in the next activity, you will have an opportunity to come back to your ‘snap judgements’ and review your responses.


Claims: snap judgement human

Do you remember what the four claim testers are? If you need a reminder, take a look at the Infographic: the four claim testers in Helpful Resources.

If you’re playing this game with other students your teacher may have already placed some ‘claims’ on display for you. Your teacher will ask you to go to each one of the three claims on display and write on a post-it note if you trust or don’t trust the claim with a short sentence explaining why. You then need to decide which claim tester you are using, e.g. intuition, logic, authority or evidence, and place your post-it note under that claim tester heading before moving on to the next claim.

If your teacher has instructed you to complete this activity on your own or in a pair, you will use the Claims: snap judgement human worksheet. Read each one of the three claims on the worksheet carefully and write down whether you trust or don’t trust each of the claims. Write at least one sentence explaining why and circle which claim testers you used to come to your decision.

4.1.1 - Claims - Snap Judgement Human Worksheet - Australian English

Helpful Resources

Infographic: the four claim testers


Activity 4.1.1 Review

Conclusion

You will learn about the differences between humans and other species in the next activity. You will then have an opportunity to come back to the 'snap judgements' that you made in this activity, think about your responses and see if you’ve changed your mind.


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 you will learn all about humans and how they came to be the most successful species on the planet. You’ll look at the positives and negatives of the connected world we live in today and begin to imagine what the future may hold for us all.

Let’s start by watching Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species which highlights some of the differences between humans and other animal species and begins to explain what it means to be human.


Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species

While you watch Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species look out for the answers to the following questions:

  1. 1. What do anthropologists study?
  2. 2. What are three physical differences between humans and other species?
  3. 3. What are three cognitive differences between humans and other species?
  4. 4. How has collective learning helped humans become so successful?

Your teacher will instruct you whether you will answer the questions: as part of a class discussion; as a group/paired discussion; or independently by writing your answers in your Big History School Junior journal (if you have been provided with one).

So where does ‘first humans’ appear on our History of the Universe Timeline?

Either your teacher will help you identify where it appears on the classroom display or you will refer back to the Timeline: history of the Universe worksheet you completed when you did the “3 big mission phase questions” activity You will find a copy of Timeline: history of the Universe example in Helpful Resources.


Download video

Helpful Resources

Timeline: history of the Universe example


Activity 4.1.2 Review

Conclusion

So now that you have a clearer idea about the differences between humans and other animal species, go back to the claims you responded to in the Snap Judgement game in the last activity.

If you are part of a class, your teacher will lead a class discussion where you and your classmates will share your responses to the claims, analyse which claim testers you used and decide whether, after watching Mission video 20: Differences between humans and other species any of you have changed your minds about any of the claims and why.


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.

An opposable thumb is simply a thumb which can stretch across and touch all the other fingers on your hand. Compare this to, for example, a cat’s front paws. Cats have five ‘digits’ on their front paws but none of them can stretch across and touch each other.

While there are other animals which have opposable thumbs, especially other primates, the human thumb is more flexible than most.

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


Demo: opposable thumbs

In this demonstration you will choose at least six tasks that you normally find quite simple to complete and then try to carry out that task without the help of your opposable thumb. Your teacher will instruct you if you will be working with a partner.

On the Demo: opposable thumbs worksheet you will find some suggested tasks:

  • 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.

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

If you are part of a class, your teacher will lead a class discussion where you and your classmates will share your responses to the reflection questions on the Demo: opposable thumbs worksheet:

  • Which types of tasks were you still able to complete without thumbs? Why?
  • Which types of tasks were you unable to complete without thumbs? Why?
  • How do you think having opposable thumbs has helped to make humans so successful?

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 you learned about some of the ways in which humans are different to other animal species. One of the most important differences is our ability to learn collectively by storing, sharing and building on information from generation to generation.

In Mission video 21: Collective learning and technological innovation you will see how collective learning, over time, has led to waves of technological innovation and how that has led to the world that we live in today...


Mission video 21: Collective learning and technological innovation

While you watch Mission Video 21: Collective learning and technological innovation look out for the answers to the following questions:

  1. 1. How did humans live 300,000 (3 lakh) years ago?
  2. 2. Which wave of innovation began 12,000 years ago?
  3. 3. Which wave of innovation began 200 years ago?
  4. 4. Which wave of innovation began 100 years ago?
  5. 5. Which wave of innovation began 20 years ago?
  6. 6. Which wave of innovation is happening right now?
  7. 7. What effect has each wave of innovation had on the human population?

Your teacher will instruct you whether you will answer the questions: as part of a class discussion; as a group/paired discussion; or independently by writing your answers in your Big History School Junior journal (if you have been provided with one).


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 year 2050 on a map. Watch the video carefully, paying 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? Can you find any other examples of big jumps in the population?

Helpful Resources

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


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 you will place the most important waves of technological innovation in chronological order on a timeline.


Timeline: technological innovation

Your teacher will provide you with a copy of the Timeline: technological innovation worksheet. Take a careful look and see what you notice about the timeline:

  • How long ago does it begin?
  • What is happening to the size of the gaps between the waves of innovation as you get closer to today?

Cut out each of the five ‘Innovations’ on the strip of paper provided by your teacher. Paste them into the correct boxes on the Timeline: technological innovation worksheet. Finally, 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

Take a look at your completed Timeline: technological innovation worksheet. What do you notice about how often the waves of innovation occur? Can you see how there was a huge gap before the first wave of innovation (almost 200,000 years!) and there is a gap of only 20 years between the most recent waves of innovation? This shows us how collective learning and human innovation are accelerating. And we know that this leads to the population increasing as well.

As a fun final reflection on the differences between our lives and those of humans who lived in the stone ages 12,000 years ago, watch the BBC video clip in Helpful Resources and notice the differences between the life of a 10 year old then compared to your life today. Which technologies do you use and enjoy today that kids didn’t have 12,000 years ago? And who do you think has it better - the Stone-Agers or you?

Helpful Resources

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


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 makes humans uniquely successful? you learned about the differences between humans and other species and how collective learning led to the technological innovations which shape our connected world.

Now it’s time to revisit your What makes humans uniquely successful? learning goals and read through them again carefully.

As you read each learning goal, tick the check box beside it if you are confident you have achieved that learning goal.

You’ll find that some learning goals are harder to achieve than others. If you find that there are learning goals that you’re not confident you’ve achieved yet, you may like to re-watch the Mission video which relates to that learning goal and/or ask your teacher for help.

Junior Post 4.1



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