Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students look at inventions across history that improved human’s ability to travel and communicate across the globe, thereby increasing their ability to learn collectively. Students take one example, the bicycle, and look at how its design has improved over the years to enable interconnectedness across communities. 

Subjects: Science, English, HASS

Year Level: Primary

Topics: The Big Bang, History

Teaching Time: 60 mins.

Unit: This is Lesson 12 of the Big History – Primary unit.

For more information on how to teach this unit and develop a transdisciplinary approach to your teaching, check out our Big History PD.

This Big History Program for primary school students is based on the Big History Project as adapted by Marilyn Ahearn and Marisa Colonna. Click here to view these lessons in their far more expansive original format.

Resources Required:

You may decide on different entrances to this story in your classroom. That is perfectly reasonable – as long as we tell the whole emerging story of our universe, as we know it! Think of the story as a chapter book where children need to hear the whole story to make sense of it – if we hear fragments from various chapters we are left with fragments once more!

Therefore, we strongly recommend you teach this unit as a whole from start to finish. You can find all of the Presentation Slides, Teacher Worksheets, Student Worksheets, and other required resources for download in this folder.

Alternatively, the resources for this lesson as a standalone are:

21st-Century Skills:

CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracyGlobal Citizenship  

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – Facilitate explicit teaching and guide students through independent work. 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

“It is one of the many odd features of modern society, that despite having access to more information than any earlier society, those in modern educational systems … teach about (our) origins in disconnected fragments. We seem incapable of offering a unified account of how things came to be, the way they are.” – David Christian, 2011, Maps of time: an introduction to big history

We encourage you to teach Big History both through and in-between disciplines (transdisciplinary)

The story of our universe needs the expertise of academic disciplines to be made sense of and explained in full. The best evidence from a wide range of disciplines presents the current best answers to our big questions.

As primary educators, this provides us in turn with the opportunity to engage with this story from a particular perspective that your grade and/or school currently requires. This means that it is not seen as an add-on/extracurricular activity that our overloaded timetables cannot cope with. English, Science, & Creative Arts syllabuses easily incorporate Big History, alongside the skills and concepts from History and Geography. Maths, too, can be incorporated in the discovery of large numbers and measuring the large scales of time and space!

Syllabus outcomes: EN2-1A, EN2-2A, EN2-4A , EN2-6B, EN2-7B, EN2-8B, EN2-10C, EN2-11D, EN2-12E, ST2-1WS-S, ST2-4LW-S, ST2-5LW-T, ST2-7MW-T, ST2-2DP-T, ST2-11DI-T, HT2-2, HT2-5, GE2-1, GE2-2, GE2-3, GE2-4, VAS2-1,VAS2.4

General capabilities: Literacy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

Big History embraces a curriculum that emphasises nature, economics, society and our own wellbeing to empower children to see our world view from the context of a unified universe story, not merely from within our local cultural worldview! 

Learning our emerging and unified 13.82 billion years of Big History helps us to understand the changing nature and fragility of our complex environment. We can use that knowledge of the past, present and future to investigate future possibilities for sustainable ways to meet our own needs and the needs of future generations.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Lesson 12: Human development: Expansion and interconnection

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • … identify how the world became more interconnected.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … create a list of technologies that allowed humans to communicate and travel more efficiently and globally
  • ... explain how collective learning helped improve the design of the bicycle
  • ... explore how bicycles allow humans to remain interconnected in a sustainable way. 

Teacher Content Information:

Expansion and interconnection. Early humans had pretty small social networks. At most, they probably met only a couple of hundred people who probably all lived very similar lives to their own. As people started farming, these networks got larger. People were increasingly specialised in their work and trade. Populations in cities got larger. Trade reached across longer distances, bringing together people with very different lives and ways of thinking.

All of this sped up the process of coll

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Student Worksheet

Student Worksheet - Lesson 12

Thought-starter: Why is the bicycle important today?

Step 1. Read the text below. 

Why is the bicycle important today?

(Adapted for primary school students from

Regular physical activity – such as walking, cycling, or doing sports – has significant benefits for health. At all ages, the benefits of being physically active outweigh potential harm, for example through accidents. By becoming more active throughout the day in relatively simple ways, people can quite easily achieve the recommended healthy activity levels.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), people who live in the poorest countries often cannot afford private vehicles so they need to depend on walking or cycling. Cycling can provide a simple and often affordable form of transport. It is also healthy, more affordable and cost-effective for many people.

By addressing the needs of people who walk and cycle, it also helps cities comb

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