The Ethics of the Bomb:
What Would You Do?
Teresa Hampton
Introduction
Standards
Objectives
Activities
Assessment
Results
Resources

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Introduction

"...down below [the mushroom cloud] the thing reminded me more of a boiling pot of tar than any other description I can give.  It was black and boiling underneath with a steam haze on top of it....We had seen the city when we went in, and there was nothing to see when we came back.  It was covered by this boiling, black-looking mass."
                                          -Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., pilot of the Enola Gay, describing what he saw after
                                           releasing the bomb over Hiroshima
 

The history and ethics of the development of the atomic bomb is one of the most significant issues in our modern world.  The atomic bomb has changed the way nations relate to each other and the way in which war is waged.  In this lesson, students will explore selected web sites regarding the Manhattan Project, Truman's decision to drop the bomb, Fat Man and Little Boy, the Enola Gay, and the aftermath in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Students will encounter differing perspectives, both historical and current, in order to answer the question,  "If you were President of the United States during World War II, what would you have done?"  They will also answer the question, "What should we do in the future to prevent this from happening again?"  Students will post their decisions in a Student Forum and will have the opportunity to respond to one another.
 

Subject:   World History
Topic:  The Atomic Bomb
Grade Level:  9th/10th
Lesson Name:   The Ethics of the Bomb
URLhttp://berners.bcoe.butte.k12.ca.us/~thampton/Students/studentsindex.html

Standards Addressed
Tenth Grade
Social Science: 
     WORLD HISTORY, CULTURE, AND GEOGRAPHY: THE MODERN WORLD

10.8  Students analyze the causes and consequences of World War II.
       3. ...discuss the major turning points of the war, the principal theaters of conflict, key strategic decisions, and 
           the resulting war conferences and political resolutions.... 
       4. Describe the political, diplomatic, and military leaders during the war (e.g., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 
           Emperor Hirohito). 
       6. Discuss the human costs of the war, with particular attention to the civilian and military losses in ... Japan. 



Instructional Objectives

  1. After listening to FDR's speech, "a date which will live in infamy," students will be able to describe the feelings of FDR and many Americans in December, 1941.
  2. After viewing resources of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, students will be able to describe the feelings of Emperor Hirohito and many Japanese in August, 1945.
  3. After viewing resources of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, students will be able to write a faked "eyewitness account" of the bombing, whether from an American or Japanese point of view.
  4. After analyzing information, including the human costs of the war, from various websites, students will be able to identify the pros and cons of dropping the atomic bomb.
  5. Students will be able to imagine the effects of an atomic bomb detonation over their own city.
  6. Students will be able to generate alternative courses of action in resolving the Japanese-American conflict.
  7. Students will be able to dialogue with their peers. 
  8. In a Power Point multimedia presentation, students will be able to present their findings on the history of the development of, and the decision to drop, the atomic bomb to an audience of peers and adults, including visiting parents and administrators.  Students will also include their reactions and opinions, and their answer to the question, "If you were President of the United States during World War II, what would you have done?"  They will also answer the question, "What should we do in the future to prevent this from happening again?"
  9. Students will be able to write, edit and revise their findings using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Student Activities

Introductory Activity

Students will take the pre-test to assess their background knowledge.

Students will listen to Franklin D. Roosevelt's "a date which will live in infamy" speech.  They will discuss what FDR said, how he must have felt, and how Americans listening to this speech might have felt.  Discussion questions might be:  Is "an eye for an eye" ever appropriate?  What should happen to somebody who starts a fight?  They will then post their opinions in the Student Forum.

Enabling Activity(ies)

1.  View Hiroshima and Nagasaki web sites, including survivors' accounts, and write a faked "eyewitness account" of the bombing of either city.  Students will choose to write their account from a Japanese or American point of view, from an adult's or child's perspective, and from a male or female standpoint.

2.  Visit other web sites that relate to the history of the atomic bomb, warfare, World War II, radiation poisoning, among other topics.  Students will generate alternative courses of action in resolving the Japanese-Amercian conflict.  We will discuss in class their ideas and opinions.  Then all students will post their thoughts in the Student Forum.

3.  Students will find a map of Chico (or some other "hometown").  They identify the hypocenter of an a-bomb blast.  This will be Enloe Hospital on the Esplanade in Chico because a hospital was the hypocenter in Hiroshima.  Students will draw four concentric circles on their maps, one at .5 miles away from the hypocenter, one at 1 mile, a third at 1.5 miles, and the last at 2 miles.  Each student will describe in the Student Forum what the effect of the hypothetical a-bomb blast (heat, wind, and radiation) had on him/herself and on his/her own family.  Each student will tell what happened to Chico High, the school(s) of their sibling(s), their home, and their parents' workplace(s), depending on each location's distance from the hypocenter.  What is in store for them in the future, if they survived....radiation poisoning, sickness, shorter life span, genetic changes in themselves and their offspring?
 

Culminating Activity

After participating in the above activities, students will be able to present their findings in a Power Point multimedia presentation.  Their presentations will summarize the history of the development of, and the decision to drop, the atomic bomb to an audience of peers and adults, including visiting parents and administrators.  Students will also include their reactions and opinions to the actual events that transpired in the 1940's.  Students will answer the question, "If you were President of the United States during World War II, what would you have done?"  They will also answer the question, "What should we do in the future to prevent this from happening again?"  Students will use historical facts and information, logic and reasoning, and evidence and examples to support their opinions.  Students will write, edit and revise their report, using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.




Assessment
 
 
The student's PowerPoint presentation contains:
1 - 2
Needs improvement
3  Proficient: 
meets standards
4  Exemplary: exceeds 
standards
one slide on the history of the Bomb. d d d
one slide on the decision to drop the Bomb. d d d
one slide of his/her own reactions & opinions of the actual events of dropping the Bomb. d d d
one slide that answers the question, "What would you have done?" d d d
one slide that answers the question, "What should we do in the future?" d d d
one slide about the author. d d d
historical & logical support for argument(s). d d d
effective use of titles, text, graphics, color, links, etc. d d d
good grammar, spelling, and punctuation. d d d

Posting 3 messages in the Student Forum = 30 points  (10 points each)
 




Results
Pre-test
Post-test

Data and charts




Web Resources & Supplementary Materials

Introductory Activity

Pre-test

FDR's "a date which will live in infamy" speech  (sound and text).  While listening to the speech, click text to read along with President Roosevelt.

Student Forum
 

Enabling Activities

A-Bomb WWW Museum

Exploratorium in San Francisco honors the 50th anniversary of the Bombing of Nagasaki

MapQuest

Harry S Truman threatens Japan with further atomic bomb attacks unless it surrenders.  Listen to his speech here.

Hiroshima Peace Site - lots of links...testimony, nuclear information, Cold War info

Virtual Tour of Nagasaki

Atomic Bomb:  Documents on the decision to use atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - includes the protest of scientists, the diary of President Truman, and top secret memos regarding "the gadget."

Appeal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations, September 1, 1939

Atomic Archives

Student Forum
 

Culminating Activity

PowerPoint 

Dictionary and Thesaurus

Student Forum

Post-test


Final Presentation - PowerPoint presentation of my insights from this project. 

One note of importance:  I have yet to figure out how to create my own "Student Forum."  Everything that I require students to post in the "Forum," I actually had them type in a Word document or write in their history notebooks.  I will update this page with the Student Forum when I make one. 


Teresa Ferguson Hampton
Chico Senior High School
901 The Esplanade
Chico, CA 95926

Last Revised: 05/28/2001