To Drop the Bomb or Not

Lesson Plan

Nagasaki bomb August 9, 1945

Concept Topic To Teach:

The development of atomic weapons; the decision to use the weapons to end WWII; and the controversy raised over the use of such weapons

Grade Level:



4 days

General Goal(s):

Have students begin to realize how the world changed forever with the dropping of the atomic weapons during WWll

Specific Objectives:

Students will study the Einstein letter; the Manhattan Project; the Trinity Test; the dropping of the bombs; and criticism of the decision.

Required Materials:

DVD player; DVDs (Einstein's Letter: Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America and The Enola Gay);
Handouts of primary source materials (letters from Einstein and Oppenheimer before and after the bombing of Japan, from web site)
Additional materials including comprehension questions ( pdf)

Primary Sources Used:

Letters from Einstein and Oppenheimer

Step-By-Step Procedures:

(1) View DVD The Einstein letter: Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America
(2) complete worksheet accompanying the DVD
(3) Discussion over Manhattan Project
(4) View DVD The Enola Gay (The story of Colonel Paul Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, is recounted in this three-hour movie adapted by James Poe and Millard Kaufman from the best-selling book.)
(5) Discuss the physical devastation caused by the bomb
(6) Discuss options other than using the bomb 
(7) complete worksheet about the Manhattan Project
(8) distribute primary source materials (see above)
(9) students write summary of lesson and draw their own conclusions


Outline and review of important materials and facts


(a) worksheet 1 (10 points); 
(b) worksheet 2 (10 points);
(c) written summary (30 points);
(d) quiz (50 points)