Scott Collins, BHP Teacher
Illinois, USA

Note from BHP Team: We asked one of our long-time Big History teachers, Scott Collins, to create an activity for the course inspired by the work of Eric Sanderson and Mannahatta. Navigate to Unit 6 to view Mr. Collins’ activity: Why Do We Live Here?

As I read “The Old Collect” from Eric Sanderson’s book Mannahatta, I immediately started thinking about all that goes into crafting a landscape and the many iterations an area may have before it stabilizes, or is stabilized, by some outward force. When you crawl down the rabbit hole and analyze the true origins of why a community looks the way it does, you realize an intricate dance with causality is at play. Where do you start? What factors do you bring to the front? What events do you highlight—which are the ones that might have sent your community on its path to today? I tried to analyze my own community. As my investigation developed, I found that maps were what dictated the story. Humans have used maps to record our history and the Earth’s geography for thousands of years. There is such a wealth of information stored in them. As you start to analyze where you’re from, I think you’ll enjoy blowing the dust off of the numerous maps you’ll find, and digging into the complex backstory of your community.

View the activity, Why Do We Live Here?

About the author: Scott Collins is a high school science teacher in Lemont, IL. In addition to BHP, he teaches AP biology, honors biology, and integrated science. His school is on a semester system. Scott’s eleventh- and twelfth-grade BHP classes run about 85 minutes long and focus heavily on the science content. About 60 students per year join him on the 13.8-billion-year journey.




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