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High School Assignment - Turning Point in World History Analytical Essay

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

This homeschool assignment presents you the challenge of writing about a major turning point in world history, from fire and the wheel to ancient civilizations to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. This assignment is suitable for 10th grade students.

Topic Overview

It has been said that Herodotus is ''The Father of History'', and indeed in his book ''The Histories'', the ancient Greek has offered us an invaluable glimpse into past civilizations.

However, world history is a most complex topic, and to this day historians fiercely debate what was the ultimate turning point in world history which has shaped humankind.

Students will benefit from this assignment by learning about some of these major turning points, and in turn by giving a written presentation about one of those crucial world historical events.

Have students visit world history pages in our Homeschool Curriculum for additional educational tools.

Key Terms

  • Constantinople: formerly known as Byzantium and now known as Istanbul, this city has been the capital of four world empires
  • Mesopotamia: regarded as the ''Cradle of Civilization'', this land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is known as Iraq today
  • Sumerians: considered to be the first human civilization


  • Internet capability
  • Paper for writing down notes
  • Writing implements


Two days to review this material/Two weeks to write presentation

Assignment Instructions for Students

Step One

  • Explain how humans ''discovering'' fire, or at least how to use it, over one million years ago was arguably the first major turning point in world history.

Step Two

  • Detail how the wheel being invented around 5,500 years ago by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia was arguably the second major turning point in world history.
    • Why do you think it took so long between the discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel?

Step Three

Juxtapose the following three critical dates in world history:

  • The fall of the Greek Empire in 146 B.C. at the Battle of Corinth
  • The fall of the Roman Empire on September 4th, 476 A.D. at the hands of Odoacer
  • The fall of the Byzantine Empire at Constantinople on May 29th, 1453
    • Since even historians disagree as to which of the above three dates is the most crucial, evaluate the end of the civilizations and decide for yourself.

Step Four

04/06/1917 - Discover how the American troops entered the war on this date and turned the tide in the favor of the Allied Powers so quickly.

06/06/1944 - D-Day - Discover why this is considered by many historians to be the turning point of the Second World War, and how the Allies managed to accomplish the daring invasion.

Step Five

07/20/1969 - First humans on the moon - Evaluate how the fact that so many people watching the astronauts live on television made the moon landing such a major event.

Step Six

  • 11/09/1989 - Fall of the Berlin Wall - Analyze how this event changed not only the country of Germany, but also other countries in Europe and around the world.
  • 12/26/1991 - Fall of the Soviet Union - Explain how many countries moved from communism to democracy after this date in history.
    • Illustrate how the above two events are interrelated.

Step Seven

  • Explain how ''The Digital Age'' or ''The Computer Age'' so drastically transformed the way people communicated and conducted business.

Part A - Invention of the Internet

  • Uncover why the unofficial birthday of the Internet is considered January 1st, 1983.
  • What important invention was Tim Berners-Lee credited with in 1989?

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