Teaching American History Project Lesson
  Michael Patterson

Author: Michael Patterson

Unit Title: Cold War

Lesson Title: Introduction to the Cold War

Subject: US History

Level: 10 - 12th Grades

Length of Lesson: Two 45-minute periods or 1 Ninety-minute block period

 

Introduction:
This lesson is an introduction to the Cold War and gives the student a simulation of the 1950’s civil defense response to the atomic threat. This period (1945-1989) saw the political and third party military conflicts between the Soviet Union and the United States. The development of Nuclear Weapons and long range delivery systems by Communist nations led to fear of mass destruction in the United States and other countries. The development of a Civil Defense policy in the United States promised citizens survival opportunities in the event of a nuclear attack. This lesson connects this 1950’s policy with today’s national policy regarding survival during a biological or chemical terrorist attack.

Students will practice an air raid, analyze a fallout brochure from the Federal Civil Defense Administration and participate in a bomb shelter dilemma using their reasoning and problem solving skills.
This lesson will work as a lead into the Cuban Missile crisis introducing students to the mindset of the American people in the 1950 -1960’s.

 

Objectives:
1. Students will understand the government Atomic radiation fallout plan for civilians.
2. Students will understand how students in 1950 practiced air raid drills.
3. Students will be able to demonstrate rationale for preserving life after a nuclear war.
4. Students will analyze this information to create a modern pamphlet with directions to build a safe room against a terror attack.

 

Standards: Nevada State Content Standards and Benchmarks

History Content Standard 9: The Twentieth Century, a Changing World: 1920 to 1945: Students understand the importance and effect of political, economic, technological, and social changes in the world from 1920 to 1945
Benchmark 9.12.2: Describe the effects of the Cold War on the United States, including: arms race and nuclear testing, McCarthyism, space race, Cuban Missile Crisis

 

In Class Student Activities:
This is a two day traditional class period lesson or one day block period lesson.

AIR RAID ACTIVITY
At the beginning of class (without explanation) play an air raid siren. 

Open the Air Raids http://www.airraidsirens.com Click on the sights and sounds webpage. Use the sound clip file Federal Model 7, 8-port version (best guess) donated by Brett Jones 1:16 751.1K (sample siren)

Teacher announces to students: “It is 1950 during school and you have just heard the air raid warning of a possible nuclear attack. Immediately duck your head under your desk and cover yourself with your arms protecting your face. This should keep flying glass and falling objects from hitting your head or face. Make sure to keep your eyes closed to protect your eyes from the flash of the atomic blast. Stay in this position until the all clear signal is given or the shock wave has passed by the school.

We have just received the all clear and you may return to your seats.”

Ask students to imagine themselves in the 1950’s and ask how they may have felt during an air raid drill in one word or simple phrase.

Write responses on the board. 

Remind students about the Terror Threat levels we use today including green, yellow, orange and red. Ask students if they have experienced any of these same feelings during the terror alerts of the 2000’s. (10 min)

 

PHOTO ANALYSIS ACTIVITY
Show students overhead picture of a sample bomb shelter and have them complete an evaluation of the picture using NARA Photo analysis worksheet. (5 min)

The hotlink below will take you to the ARC Basic Search, enter the ARC number in the key word box and click “go”.
http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/basic_search.jsp
ARC Identifier: 542105

Photo analysis worksheet
http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/lessons/analysis_worksheets/photo.html  

As a class students will discuss their responses. (5 min)

Have students discuss how a modern shelter might compare and contrast with the 1950’s picture of a sample shelter. In the 1950’s people were afraid of radiation, what would we fear today? (5 min)

 

DOCUMENT ANALYSIS ACTIVITY
Give copy of the Facts About Fallout brochure. Have students do the document analysis worksheet. (10 min)

Facts About Fallout brochure
http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/basic_search.jsp
ARC Identifier: 306714

Written document analysis worksheet
http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/lessons/analysis_worksheets/document.html

Have students share their ideas and observations in a class discussion. (10 min)

 

BOMB SHELTER ACTIVITY
Place students in groups of 4 or 5 to work together to reach a consensus of a controversial issue. Read and discuss the activity below: (2 min)

ACTIVITIES: Three days ago, nuclear war broke out around the world with massive attacks in all heavily populated areas. For the first 24 hours, radio broadcasts reported tremendous damage and loss of life in all areas, including the total annihilation of most of Earth's population. For the past 48 hours, there have been no broadcasts. Fortunately, the people listed below were able to reach a fallout shelter in time to take cover and survive the initial devastation. You must assume that those in the shelter are, as far as you know, the only survivors of the war.

 Here is the dilemma:  There are twelve people in the fallout shelter, but there is not enough food, water and other supplies to keep them all alive until the atmosphere is safe.  To survive, the people must stay inside the fallout shelter for at least three months.  The problem is that if all of them stay in the shelter, all of them will starve to death or dehydrate.  There are supplies enough to allow seven of the twelve people to survive

 Your task is to decide, based on the information given, which people will be allowed to remain (and live), and which people will be required to leave the shelter (and probably die).  We will assume that those who are selected to leave will do so peacefully.  At issue is the survival of humans on Earth.  The bottom line is that if human beings are to repopulate the Earth, such repopulation will begin with those survivors chosen by you.

 Carefully evaluate all information about each of the twelve persons.  Consider their health, experiences, age, sex, and intelligence.  Then decide which seven will be allowed to stay in the shelter and which five must leave.

 On a separate sheet of paper, list the seven people you would have survive and repopulate the Earth, stating your reasons for keeping them.  Then list the five you would have leave the shelter and state the reasons for not keeping them.  (10 min)

 After you have made your decisions and formulated your reasons, you will be placed with a group of other students (four to five per group).  Each person in the group should present his or her decisions to the rest or the group.  The task is to reach a consensus among the group as to who should stay and who should go. (15 min)

 Have the class as a whole share their answers and get a consensus about a final decision.  Discuss how this project evoked emotion (be prepared – this can create some strong debate) and what went into the decision-making. (15 min)   

Download Supplemental Lesson Documents
People Descriptions
Photo Analysis Worksheet
Written Document Analysis Worksheet

 

Extended Enrichment Activity:
Have the students write a modern government brochure promoting a safe room/shelter to protect against a terrorist attack. Recommend students look at the following internet sites for ideas:

American safe rooms 45 Park Alley – PO Box – Lynchburg, TN 37352
http://www.americansaferooms.com/

FEMA 500 C Street, SW Washington, D.C. 20472 Phone: (202) 566-1600
http://www.fema.gov/mit/saferoom/

 

Evaluation /Assessment:
1. Check student photo and document analysis worksheets for detail and completeness.
2. Evaluate student work on brochure based on creativity and practicality
3. Participation and discussion in the Bomb Shelter Activity

 

Bibliography/Citation:
Air raid siren – Click on the sights and sounds webpage Use the sound clip file - Federal Model 7, 8-port version (best guess) donated by Brett Jones 1:16 751.1K
http://www.airraidsirens.com

Bomb shelter photo
The hotlink below will take you to the ARC Basic Search, enter the ARC number in the key word box and click “go”.
http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/basic_search.jsp
ARC Identifier: 542105
Title: How to build a fallout shelter, ca. 1957 Creator: Federal Emergency Management Agency. (04/01/1979 - 03/2003) (Most Recent) Type of Archival Materials: Photographs and other Graphic Materials Level of Description: Item from Record Group 311: Records of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 1956 – 1981 Location: Still Picture Records LICON, Special Media Archives Services Division, College Park, MD

Facts About Fallout brochure
http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/basic_search.jsp
ARC Identifier: 306714
Title: Facts About Fallout, 1955 Creator: Government Printing Office. (1861 - ) (Most Recent) Type of Archival Materials: Textual Records Level of Description: Item from Record Group 287: Publications of the U.S. Government, 1790 – 1979 Location: Center for Legislative Archives, Washington, DC

Bomb shelter Lesson Plan
Woody Morris, Wewoka High School, Wewoka, OK
http://www.ofcn.org/cyber.serv/academy/ace/soc/cecsst/cecsst024.html

American safe rooms 45 Park Alley – PO Box – Lynchburg, TN 37352
http://www.americansaferooms.com/

FEMA 500 C Street, SW Washington, D.C. 20472 Phone: (202) 566-1600
http://www.fema.gov/mit/saferoom/