What Would You Do?
"...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."
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
10.8 Students analyze
the causes and consequences of World War II.
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.
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?
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.
Posting 3 messages in the Student Forum = 30 points (10 points
Web Resources & Supplementary Materials
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
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
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.
Last Revised: 05/28/2001