Just today I stumbled upon Big History Project, an online course geared toward high schoolers that–get this–takes students on a tour of 13.7 billion years of history in ten units. Bill Gates is providing ongoing support for the project, which at this point is accessible only to educators, but is being geared up for free public access in September.
I watched the promo videos and I am so looking forward to watching this.
The way they pull it off and keep the attention of 15 year olds, besides great visuals, is by focusing on 8 “thresholds of increasing complexity,” i.e., 8 “dramatic transitions” where the right ingredients and the right conditions led to new levels of complexity. The lessons, naturally, will engage science, archaeology, anthropology.
The thresholds are (and pardon the squishy screenshot):