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WATCH: Big Questions – H2

In this short, H2’s Big History takes a look at the big questions. Where did we come from? Where are we going? A preview of the Big History series on H2. http://www.history.com/shows/big-history Like what you see? This video is part of a comprehensive social studies curriculum from OER Project, a family of free, online social studies courses. OER Project aims to empower teachers by offering free and fully supported social studies courses for middle- and high-school students. Your account is the key to accessing our standards-aligned courses that are designed with built-in supports like leveled readings, audio recordings of texts, video transcripts, and more. Register today at oerproject.com!

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Created by Big History Project.

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Video transcript

Big History is always defined by big questions. That's what makes it big. It's not just the scale that we work on, but the questions are huge. And so the biggest question that we ask is, "So how did we get here?" And the "we" is the collective we. How did we as human beings arrive to this point in time, and what were the major turning points along that journey? Honestly, when I start teaching the story of life on Earth, I start with the fundamental questions. Where did life originate? Don't know. When did life originate? Don't know, but really early. How did life originate? Not a freaking clue. But here's what we do know and here's what we can hypothesize based on what we know. And I really, really enjoy bringing hot-off-the-press items. "Look, here's something that was just discovered. This has totally changed our perspective of everything." I mean, there's been some great ones for the origins of the human race. For example, there was, "Hey, we just realized that human beings actually integrated with Neanderthals." And I think it actually brings it alive because there are always hot-off-the-press items that are fundamentally changing everything about what we know. It's brilliant. The message that Big History gives to students is, yes, the big questions about what it means to be human. Do we live at a sort of turning point in human or planetary history? Which I believe we do. What's my place in the cosmos? We're saying, in effect, "These are great questions. "We can't solve them for you, but modern science can help you think seriously and deeply and richly about these questions."