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Public Big History Project: A Story For Everyone by Mind Map: Public Big History Project: A
Story For Everyone
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Public Big History Project: A Story For Everyone

The Big History series asks questions guaranteed to change the way you look at the past. Did Napoleon’s invasion of Russia come undone because of…tin buttons?  Did New York become America’s biggest city because of…salt? How does the sinking of the Titanic power your cell phone? What’s the connection between ancient Egyptian mummies and a modern ham and cheese sandwich? By weaving science into the core of the human story, Big History takes familiar subjects and gives them a twist that will have you rethinking everything from the Big Bang to today’s headlines. The series creates an interconnected panorama of patterns and themes that links history to dozens of fields including astronomy, biology, chemistry, and geology.  The first season ends with a two-hour finale that pulls everything we know about science and history into one grand narrative of the universe and us.

Units of Big History

Big History Year-Long Plan

Big History Youtube Playlist

Glossary for Course

Unit 1 - What is Big History?

Unit 1 Guide

1.0: Welcome to Big History, History as a Mystery, Easter Island Mystery, What is Big History? - Video, What is Big History?, Crash Course: The Big Bang Video, Crash Course: The Big Bang, BIG HISTORY WEBSITE SCAVENGER HUNT, A Big History of Everything Video, A Big History of Everything, Quiz, Question #1, Question #2, Question #3, Question #4, Question #5, David Christian Ted Talk, - The History of Everything -

1.1 Scale

1.2: Origin Stories

1.3: What are disciplines?

1.4: My Big History

Web Links

Vocabulary for Unit 1, Big Bang, A theory, first articulated in the 1920s, proposing that the Universe started out extremely hot and dense and gradually cooled off as it expanded., Big History, A unified account of the entire history of the Universe that uses evidence and ideas from many disciplines to create a broad context for understanding humanity; a modern scientific origin story., Complexity, A quality of an object or system that has diverse components precisely arranged in connection with one another (so that new properties emerge which did not exist in the components alone)., Emergent Properties, Properties of a complex system that are not present within its parts but that emerge only when those parts are combined., Goldilocks Conditions, Specific set of conditions necessary to enable greater complexity. The reference is to the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in which Goldilocks looks for the porridge, chair, and bed that are “just right.”, Ingredients, Components that are put together to form something new and more complex., Interdisciplinary Approach, An approach to a subject that uses the viewpoints of many different kinds of scholars about the same topic. For instance, Big History relies on information from cosmologists, astrophysicists, geologists, chemists, paleontologists, biologists, anthropologists, and historians, as well as experts in other disciplines, to learn about the past., Origin Story, A narrative about the beginning of the Universe and humanity., Thresholds of increasing complexity, Moments in the history of the Universe when specific ingredients under the right "Goldilocks Conditions" come together to create something new and more complex., Universe, All the matter and energy in existence, as well as the space that contains it., Test in PDF

Unit #2: The Big Bang

Unit 2 Guide

2.0: How did our understanding of the Universe change?

2.1: The Big Bang

2.2: Claim Testing

Web Links

Vocabulary for Unit 2

Unit #3: The Stars Light Up & New Chemical Elements

Unit 3 Guide

3.0: How were stars formed?

3.1: Creation of Complex Elements

3.2: Ways of Knowing Stars & Elements

Web Links, Dmitri Mendeleev: Great Minds, Madame Curie: Great Minds, Birth of Stars Khan Academy, Formation of the First Stars, Stars, Galaxies, Galaxy Clusters, and Superclusters, The Visible Universe, When Big Stars Grow Old

Vocabulary for Unit 3

Unit #4: Our Solar System

Unit 4 Guide

4.0: Earth & The formation of Our Solar System

4.1: What was the young earth like?

4.2: Why is plate tectonics important?

4.3: Ways of Knowing: Our Solar System & Earth

Web Links

Vocabulary for Unit 4

Unit #5: Life

Unit 5 Guide

5.0: What is Life?

5.1: How did Life begin and change?

5.2: How do Life and Earth Interact?

5.3: Ways of Knowing

Other Materials

Vocabulary for Unit 5

Unit #6: Early Humans

Unit 6 Guide

6.0: How our ancestors evolved

6.1: Ways of knowing: Early humans

6.2: Collective Learning

6.3: How did the first humans live?

Web Links

Vocabulary for Unit 6

Unit #7: Agriculture & Civilization

Unit 7 Guide

7.0: The Rise of Agriculture

7.1: The First Cities & States Appear

7.2: Ways of Knowing: Agriculture & Civilization

Web Links

Vocabulary for Unit 7

Unit #8: Expansion & Interconnection

Unit 8 Guide

8.0: Expansion

8.1: Exploration & Interconnection

8.2: The Columbian Exchange

8.3: Commerce & Collective Learning

Other Materials

Vocabulary for Unit 8

Unit #9: Acceleration

Unit 9 Guide

9.0: Transitions, Thresholds & Turning Points in History

9.1: Acceleration

9.2: The Anthropocene

9.3: Changing Economies

9.4: How was the modern world created? Industrialism

9.5: How was the modern world created? Modern States & Identities

9.6: Crisis and Conflict on the Global Stage

9.7: Acceleration - Demographic, Political & Technical

Web Links

Vocabulary for Unit 9

Unit #10: The Future

Unit 10 Guide

10.1: The Biosphere

10.2: Looking Forward

10.3: Are We Alone?

Vocabulary for Unit 10

Big History Series - History Channel

Episode #1 - Salt, Study Guide, The Erie Canal, The Erie Canal, "The most ambitious engineering project in America", The shortage of salt, Connecting to the Hudson River, "The Ditch that Salt Built", History of Salt PDF, Salt Licks, Animals would travel to lick salt in certain areas, Paved over for ancient roads, Salt Licks, Evaporation of the Oceans, Salt is dissolved by rain, Oceans evaporate, Building near the source of salt, The Start of Life, Salt interacting in the oceans, Life evolves & emerges from saltwater, Animals stay in the ocean, Bring saltwater with animals, How?, The Egg - Ostrich, Ostrich Running, How do we know when we need salt?, Craving of salt, A taste sensation, "Our Salt Sense", Salt Addiction, Other cravings a side effect, Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco, Salt Taxes in History, The Great Wall of China, 3,000 miles long, Emperor has to decide how to pay for it, The taxation of salt, British Salt Tax, India, France, Salt Tax, Overthrowing of Governments, Led to French Revolution, SuperPowers of Salt, Egypt, 1213 B.C., Ramses, Preserving a mummy, Microscopic power of salt, Salt draws water out of tissue during preservation, Preserve, Meat, Fish, Vegetables, "An Ancient Refrigerator", Body is preserved by salt, Humans, Remove entrails, Stuff with salt, Salami, Salted meat, Salary, Romans were paid with "Salt"

Episode #2 - Horse Power Revolution, Study Guide, Horse, "Man's Most Important Ally", Central Grasslands of Asia, Spread of Language, Horse creates a "Highway of Words", 4000 B.C., Horse was the fastest way to spread a language, The Wearing of Pants, Ancient Rome, The Wearing of the Pants, Rome makes the switch to pants, Strength, Temperment, Speed, 6x fast than a human, "Breaking a Horse", Alexander, The technique "breaking a horse" to be able to ride it, The Horse Saddle, Empires, Mongol Empire, 13,000,000 square miles, Later divided into 4 territories, The Reliance on the Horse for messages, Horses born in the Americas, 50,000,000 years ago, Relatives in the trees, Over time adapt with long legs, Bering Land Bridge, Some horses go to Asia across the land bridge to Asia - were hunted for food in North America near extinction, 15th & 16th Century, Horses were brought back with the Spanish, Spanish conquered the Native Americans, Native Americans want horses, Expanded Empires on horses, Humans cannot digest grass because of cellulose which we cannot digest, We need to get the energy of grass by animals that eat grass, Cattle, Dairy Cow, Birds, Speed & Strength of Horses, Car Engines, Measured in horse power: HP, Bugatti Veyron, Top Speed, 253 mph, Jesse Owens racing a horse, Kentucky Derby Start, Energy from food, Traced to the sun via plants, Other animals have to eat grass, Grass versus Corn fed, Plants waste 90% of the sun's energy, Domesticate an animal, Usain Bolt Start

Episode #3 - Gold Fever, Study Guide, Fort Knox, Why gold is so valuable?, Current Price of Gold, Emotional value, James Marshall & John Sutter, Northern California, 1848, Wisconsin became a State, "Miner 49'er", Fort Knox, Federal Reserve Bank in New York, Monetary Policy, Store Money, Federal Reserve Minneapolis, $10 - $20 Billion in Cash, Prehistoric, "The Glimmer", The shine of water and how valuable it is, Properties, Never rusts or tarnishes, Rare, Makes Exchanges available, Why gold versus other metals?, 7 metals but nothing matches it, Secret Stash of Gold, Near the Core, Scattered in random places, Could cover the earth 13 feet deep, If all the gold was unearthed, Land masses rise, Veins of gold occur, Used as Money, First time 2500 years ago in the Mediterranean, North America, Decoration, Jewelry, In the Americas, Used as jewelry and not yet money, Europeans coming to America to take advantage of gold, Man Steals Gold Flakes, Scramble for Wealth, Christopher Columbus, Spain, Global Gold Rush, From the Spaniards, Gold Fever in California, 1848, 1492 - 1900, Gold transforms the planet, Trading Mechanism

Episode #4 - Below Zero, Study Guide, 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte, "Scorched Earth Policy" by the Russians, What is "scorched earth", 60% of troops die, Adaptation, Cold, Key, Death, Life, Preservation of Core Temperature, Has to stay above 86 degrees F, Normal Body Temperature is what?, 98.6 degrees F., 250,000,000 years ago, All animals cold blooded, Your body is the same temperature as outside, Mammals developed, Generate their own heat, The Needle was developed, Making clothing, Clothing, Clothing Insulates, Blocks the sun from hitting the skin, Lighter skin was developed, To let more Vitamin D in through lighter skin rather than shielding it, Vitamin D production when sun hits it, Russians defeat the French in Russia, Properties of Metal, Tin buttons turn to dust, Death from cold, Russians knew how to build shelter, Food sources, Grazing animals thrive on the grass in the north, Horse based warrior cultures, Plunder cultures from the south, Vikings, Spain, England, Raid of the southern populations that last 5000 years, Large civilizations in the South, Controlling the Cold, Frederic Tudor, Cut blocks of ice, Ships ice from Boston from Martinique, Packed in Straw with Apples on top, Refrigerated Railroad car, Easier to heat the cold rather than cool the hot, Ice forms on 25% of the northern hemisphere in the winter, 5,000,000,000 out of 7,400,000,000 people live where there is no ice, Worldometer, Shipping fresh food across a continent, Red Bull Crashed Ice, Refrigerated track

Episode #5 - Megastructures, Study Guide, Earliest Structures -- 3500 B.C., Pyramids at Giza, Egypt - Outside of Cairo, China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Central America, Thailand, Mexico, Locations disconnected from each other, Decades of Work, The Importance of Height, Building high versus wide, Height signals power & dominance, The Psychology of "Awe", Hong Kong, Tallest things on earth are "Natural Pyramids", Mountains, Volcanoes, Very little space inside a pyramid, Pyramid Dollar Bill, STEEL lets builders mimic the structure in nature by using an internal skeleton, The Powerful Human Instinct to Build Big & Defy Gravity, Hubs of Matter with Energy Centers, Things happen where complexity exist, The Evolution of More & More Complex Structures

Episode #6 - Defeating Gravity, Study Guide, The Quest to Fly, Leonardo da Vinci, Hundreds of pages in notebook, Da Vinci Flight, Goal, How will man fly?, Mona Lisa, The Barrier to Flight, Gravity, Jupiter, Would crush us, Moon, Little gravity, Dunk on a 13 foot rim, Does gravity change?, Astronauts running on the moon, Wings, Need thrust, Birds have 10x the flight power than humans, Aircraft Wing, Movement of air over an airplane wing, 747 Taking off in St. Maartin, The Age of the Engine, Wright Brothers, Gas engine could generate thrust, Engine has to light, ALUMINUM, Never found in pure form, More valuable than gold in 1900, Symbol of wealth and power, Top of the Washington Monument was aluminum, Charles Hall, Shoots current and increases the production of aluminum - ALCOA, Alcoa, Crankcase made out of Alcoa Aluminum, Pangea, Continent separates into 7, Dries out & trees adapt making spruce, Spruce, Lightness - Ideal for making a plane, Spruce Tree, Flight is survival, 65,000,000 years ago, Ice Age, Asteroid, Extinction of the Dinosaurs, 65,000 years, Man, Mount Everest Sized Asteroid, Takes out the dinosaurs, Winged dinosaurs survived & evolved into birds, Modern Day Birds, Land based creatures died, Pollination, Pollinating crops by bees, The Invisible Ocean, Death of The Hindenburg, Hindenburg Explosion, Gases form during the formation of earth, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Originally a waste product of bacteria, Any gas lighter than the atmosphere, Float, 6 gases lighter than oxygen, Hydrogen, The pressure created by resistance of air moves an object forward, Gravity is this invisible ocean, Gravity restricts & enables flight, Gravity Movie Trailer

Episode #7 - World of Weapons, Study Guide, Link between Biology & How We Fight, Stone Age, Have to get up close to kill, Danger getting close, We Create Tools to Extend our Reach, Materials from Nature to create weapons, Spears, Drones, Guns, Rocket Launchers, Tanks, "The Need to Strike Prey from a Distance", Guns, China 850 AD, Sulphur, Carbon, Saltpeter (potassium nitrate), Gunpowder, Evaporation of animal poop, Special Climate, Southern & Western China, Happens naturally, Warfare, Humans Going Upright, Can see further by being upright, Hands are free, Use tools, Humans, Flexible wrist, MLB Pitcher throwing, Special shoulders to throw, Arm & Leg, A biomechanics marvel, Ambidextrous, Either hand, Throwing projectiles, Death at a distance, Punt, Pass & Kick Competition, Crecy, France - 1346, The Arrow & the Longbow, The "machine gun" of the day, The Yew Tree, Wood is unique, Bends without breaking, Strength & Flexibility, 5000 year old wood, The Bubonic Plague, The Bubonic Plague, Kills 50% of Europe's Population, "The Shot Heard Round the World", Guns replace the longbow, Easy to train, Accuracy

Episode #8 - Brain Boost, Study Guide, 1773 - Boston, Boston Tea Party, 50 tons, $3,000,000 worth of tea, The Start of the American Revolution, Global Trade of Coffee & Tea, Tea, Only grown in China originally, Caffeine, Adrenaline release, Caffeine content of leading sodas, Minds become sharper, Stops our brains from telling us it's time to sleep, Triggers the release to the reward center, Coffee houses of Europe, Political discourse, French Revolutionaries, Overthrowing Governments, American coffee house, American Revolution, Alcohol is a depressant, Coffee Plant, DNA, DNA, Share 90% of DNA with Chimpanzees, Also share (50%) DNA from Plants and the evolution from the original one cell creature, Cosmic Evidence, 1,500,000,000 years ago, Collision, Earth collides with something the size of Mars, Gravity forms the moon, Moon slows down the earth's rotation and creates a more calm environment., Tilt, 23.5 degrees, The Tropics, Constant angle to the sun, 49,000,000 years ago, Plants develop caffeine as a weapon, Poison is caffeine, 1600's, Addictive Substance, Caffeine trade, Expansion, Colonialism, England, Spain & France, Tropical areas of the world, Enslave native people of those areas, To fund the trading, Caribbean & Other Tropics, Coffee expansion, Tea habit is kicked, UnAmerican, British start drinking tea in 1700, 1800 - Largest tea drinking nation in the world, Tea saves lives from boiling water, Water born illness is reduced by 50%, More children, Live longer, Modern Day, Starbucks, Started in Seattle

Episode #9 - Mountain Machines, Study Guide, Mountains, A huge obstacle, Donner Party, Going West, High Sierra's, 10 day blizzard, Resort to cannibalism, Mountain Ranges, Himalayas, Asian, Alps, Europe, Andes, South America, Rockies, United States, Appalachian, United States, Mountain Ranges, Actually only two systems, Alpine Belt, East - West, Ring of Fire, North - South, East West Temperate Zone, The ability to grow crops, Balkanization, Feuding clans, Mountains Excavate, With erosion they expose other materials, Natural Resources, Coal, "Ice Man" Discovered, 5000 years, Wearing fur, Weather Creator, Moisture rises and cool water in clouds, Windward Side, Snow, Leeward Side, Dry, If there were no mountains, The earth would be inhabited, Too extreme, Mid Atlantic Ridge, Phone Line, Copper Cable, Fiber Optic

Episode #10 - Pocket Time Machines, Study Guide, Cell phones, More phones than people, Language, Communication, Memory, Recalling information in a specific sequence, Encoding items on a list, Becomes exponentially harder, 50x harder to do 10 numbers than just 3 numbers, Chunking of information, Similar to early hunters & gatherers, Go to a ridge, Look for animals, strike & kill, AT&T Designing a phone dial, Nokia Circular Dial, Costa del Concordia, Sound Waves, 600 feet is max distance before it falls off, Big Bang, Electromagnetism, Radio Waves, Transported by vibration, Cell phones convert to radio waves, Unregulated, Titanic, Urgent SOS message, Congress divides the spectrum of radio waves, 5G LTE, Tantalum, Light, Non-Corrosive, Forms a microscopic skin, HOLDS A CHARGE, Storage Power from a battery, Metals stay separate

Episode #11 - Decoded, Study Guide

Episode #12 - Deadly Meteors, Study Guide

Episode #13 - The Sun, Study Guide

Episode #14 - Rise of the Carnivores, Study Guide

Episode #15 - H2O, Study Guide

Episode #16 - Silver Supernova, Study Guide

Year Long Plan

Year-Long Big History Syllabus


Teacher Resources