Debating the Atomic Bomb 11 th



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Debating the Atomic Bomb


11th Grade U.S. History


Lesson Overview:

Students will be able to answer the following question: “Was the dropping of the atomic bomb justified?” They will investigate the differing perspectives before forming their own opinion.



Standards Addressed:
History/Social Science:

11.7.7: Discuss the decision to drop the atomic bomb and the consequences of the decision (Hiroshima and Nagasaki)



Language Arts:

Writing 2.4 Write historical investigation reports:
a. Use exposition, narration, description, argumentation, exposition, or some combination of rhetorical strategies to support the main proposition.
b. Analyze several historical records of a single event, examining critical relationships between elements of the research topic.
c. Explain the perceived reason or reasons for the similarities and differences in historical records with information derived from primary and secondary sources to support or enhance the presentation.
d. Include information from all relevant perspectives and take into consideration the validity and reliability of sources.
e. Include a formal bibliography.







English Language Learner (ELL) Strategies:
Use of Supplementary materials:


Visuals of key people involved (Truman, Oppenheimer, Hirohito, etc), websites with photos


Adaptation of Content:

Graphic organizers, highlighted text, margin notes, shrinking margins and adding pictures



Engaging Scenario:


The Library of Congress is preparing a special exhibition of documents and photos relating to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This exhibition will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on August 6, 2005. The exhibition will seek to answer one of the most controversial questions of the 20th century: was the dropping of the atomic bomb justified (right)? Supporters believe that the atomic bomb helped to end the war more quickly. They argue that without the atomic bomb, the United States would have had to invade the home islands of Japan, resulting in hundreds of thousands of additional American and Japanese casualties (people killed or injured). Opponents argue that Japan would have surrendered without the use of an atomic bomb on a civilian target. They say that Japan was a beaten nation in August of 1945 and was only looking for a way to surrender while preserving the role of their emperor.

The Librarian of Congress has asked you, a distinguished scholar, to settle this question. You will join one of four teams. Each team will research the decision to drop the bomb from a different perspective. These are the four perspectives: 1) a scientist involved with the Manhattan Project; 2) a senior civilian diplomatic or political advisor to President Truman; 3) a senior U.S. military leader; and 4) a Japanese survivor of the bombing.



Task Summary:


  1. Each group researches the big question by reading the student handout and looking at the websites provided for their group. Students take notes using the graphic organizer 1.

  2. After researching the information, the group needs to discuss the big question within their group and come to a group consensus on the answer to their question from the point of view of a diplomat, scientist, Japanese survivor, or military leader.

  3. Each group needs to create a short position paper answering the question, using the graphic organizer 2.

  4. Each group needs to create a poster summarizing their position for the class, using visuals.

  5. Each group presents their poster to the class.

  6. The class takes notes in a matrix about pro/cons.

  7. There are a total of 8 groups of 4, so each role has 2 groups playing it.
  8. After everybody has presented, the students write a short individual report answering the question. The individual report is a short persuasive essay that must incorporate both pro and con arguments using notes.


  9. After everyone has presented and the students have written their individual reports, the class votes on whether the decision to drop the bomb was justified.


Web Resources Needed:


General Resources on the Bomb Decision
Hiroshima: Who’s Who and What’d They Do

http://www.doug-long.com/who.htm
An introduction to the key players in the decision to use the bomb.
“Pro/Con on Dropping of the Bomb”

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/trinity/supplement/procon.html
This article by Bill Dietrich of the Seattle Times gives a good summary of the pro/con arguments to dropping the bomb:
“Bomb History Still Bears Bitterness”

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/trinity/articles/closer1.html
This article in the Seattle Times gives an overview of different survivor, veteran, and scientific perspectives on the dropping of the atomic bomb. It is a good introduction to the controversy about the atomic bomb decision.
Atomic Bomb: Decision

http://www.dannen.com/decision/index.html
Atomic Bomb: Decision has some of the best primary source documents on the decision to drop the bomb. It includes documents by scientists, military leaders, political advisors, a Soviet general, and President Truman. It was created to show how Manhattan Project physicist Leo Szilard attempted to stop the use of the atomic bomb against Japan. Other Manhattan Project physicists, however, supported the use of the bomb against Japan.

Japanese Leaders and Survivors Resources

Japanese Minister of War Korechika Anami



http://www.doug-long.com/anami.htm
General Anami favored Japan’s fighting to the end.
A-Bomb World War II Museum

http://www.csi.ad.jp/ABOMB/index.html
This Web-based project has information about the effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and interviews with survivors.
The Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF)

http://www.rerf.or.jp/eigo/experhp/rerfhome.htm
This joint US-Japanese organization “conducts research and studies--for peaceful purposes--on the effects of radiation exposure on humans with a view toward contributing to the maintenance of the health and welfare of atomic-bomb survivors and to the enhancement of the health of all people.”
Scientific Data of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Disaster

http://www-sdc.med.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/n50/index.html
This site presents information on the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
“My Experience of the Nagasaki Atomic Bombing and An Outline of the Damages Caused by the Explosion,” by Dr. Raisuke Shirabe

http://www-sdc.med.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/n50/shirabe/contents-E.html
This Japanese doctor writes about his experience of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

Manhattan Project Scientific Perspectives

The Franck Report, June 11, 1945



http://www.dannen.com/decision/franck.html
This report urged that the bomb be demonstrated first on a desert island before its being used in combat.
Scientific Panel, June 16, 1945

http://www.dannen.com/decision/scipanel.html
This panel found no alternative to using the bomb.
Szilard Petition, Final Version, July 17, 1945

http://www.dannen.com/decision/45-07-17.html
Physicist Leo Szilard created a petition to be given to President Truman urging that the atomic bomb not be used against Japan before Japan be given a chance to surrender.
J. Robert Oppenheimer

http://www.doug-long.com/oppie.htm
Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer chaired the scientific panel that supported the use of the atomic bomb. After the war, however, he had regrets about the use of the bomb.

Advisors to President Truman

Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s Diaries



http://www.doug-long.com/
This site has Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s diary entries and papers. Stimson urged that Japan be given reassurance that they could keep their Emperor and surrender. But he was also a key supporter of the atomic bombing of Japan.
Secretary of State James F. Brynes

http://www.doug-long.com/byrnes.htm
Perhaps Truman’s most influential advisor, Brynes wanted to end the war as quickly as possible to keep the Russians from invading Japan. He saw the atomic bomb as a tool the US could use in negotiations with the Russians.
President Truman’s Diary

http://www.doug-long.com/
President Truman ordered that the bomb be used on a purely military target, not against women and children. He worried about the moral and ethical implications of its use.
Bard Memorandum

http://www.doug-long.com/bard.htm
Ralph Bard was Under Secretary of the Navy. He advocated warning Japan before using the bomb against them.
John J. McCloy

http://www.doug-long.com/mccloy.htm
Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy felt that the Japanese would have surrendered without the use of the atomic bomb if the US had let them keep their emperor.

Military Advisors

General George C. Marshall



http://www.doug-long.com/stimson4.htm

General Marshall believed that the bomb should be used first against military then against manufacturing centers.


Admiral William Leahy

http://www.doug-long.com/leahy.htm
Admiral Leahy was chief of staff to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. He felt Japan would have surrendered even without the dropping of the bomb.


(Attach Student task Handouts and grading rubrics – see examples attached)


Student Handout #1
Historical Background to the Bomb

In 1939, Albert Einstein and other scientists wrote a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt informing him that it was theoretically possible to split the atom to release vast amounts of energy. This letter warned President Roosevelt that Germany under Adolf Hitler was working to develop an atomic bomb. Alarmed, Roosevelt ordered the creation of a top-secret project to develop an atomic bomb. This was called the Manhattan Project, and it drew on the top nuclear physicists from America and around the world.

Manhattan Project scientists worked in complete secrecy around the clock in a secret lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and in labs in Hanford, Washington, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee to design, build, and test a bomb before the Germans did. This 2 billion dollar project was put under the direction of the Department of the Army and headed by General Leslie R. Groves. The leader of the scientists at Los Alamos was the brilliant Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.

In April 1945, President Roosevelt died suddenly as work on the bomb neared completion. Vice President Harry S. Truman succeeded Roosevelt and learned about the top-secret bomb (called S-1) for the first time. In May of 1945, the Germans surrendered. World War II in Europe was over, and Japan was almost defeated. Now the Allies (the US, Great Britain, Soviet Union, China, France) had to deal with how to finish the war against the Japanese and what shape the post-war world should take. President Truman had to meet with Soviet leader Stalin at Potsdam, Germany, in July of 1945 to decide how much territory and influence the Soviets should have in Europe and Asia and how much the Western Allies should have. Truman and his advisors were anxious to know whether the bomb worked or not because he thought it would give him leverage over Stalin in the negotiations. On July 16, 1945, while at Potsdam, President Truman received word that the atomic bomb had been tested successfully in the desert of New Mexico. He issued the Potsdam Declaration, calling on Japan to surrender unconditionally or face utter destruction. When Japan refused, he ordered that the atomic bomb be used.

On August 6, 1945, a lone B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay flew toward Hiroshima, an important industrial and military center in southwestern Japan. Reaching the target, the Enola Gay released the single atomic bomb it carried. The bomb exploded about 2,000 feet above the city. It flattened about 4 square miles of Hiroshima, and killed about 80,000 people. Many thousands more would die in the weeks and months ahead from radiation. When Japan did not surrender, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9. The next day, August 10, Japan's emperor, Hirohito, ordered that his country surrender. Japan formally surrendered on September 2, 1945.

Student Handout #2
Question: Was the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima justified?
Your Task:

The Library of Congress is preparing a special exhibition of documents and photos relating to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This exhibition will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on August 6, 2005. The exhibition will seek to answer one of the most controversial questions of the 20th century: was the dropping of the atomic bomb justified (right)? Supporters believe that the atomic bomb helped to end the war more quickly. They argue that without the atomic bomb, the United States would have had to invade the home islands of Japan, resulting in hundreds of thousands of additional American and Japanese casualties (people killed or injured). Opponents argue that Japan would have surrendered without the use of an atomic bomb on a civilian target. They say that Japan was a beaten nation in August of 1945 and was only looking for a way to surrender while preserving the role of their emperor.


The Librarian of Congress has asked you, a distinguished scholar, to settle this question. You will join one of four teams. Each team will research the decision to drop the bomb from a different perspective. These are the four perspectives: 1) a scientist involved with the Manhattan Project; 2) a senior civilian diplomatic/political/military advisor to President Truman; 3) a senior U.S. military leader; and 4) a Japanese survivor of the bombing.


  1. Each group researches the big question by reading the student handout and looking at the websites provided for their group. Students take notes using the graphic organizer 1.

  2. After researching the information, the group needs to discuss the big question within their group and come to a group consensus on the answer to their question from the point of view of a diplomat, scientist, Japanese survivor, or military leader.

  3. Each group needs to create a short position paper answering the question, using the graphic organizer 2.

  4. Each group needs to create a poster summarizing their position for the class, using visuals.

  5. Each group presents their poster to the class.

  6. The class takes notes in a matrix about pro/cons.

  7. After everybody has presented, the students write a short individual report answering the question. The individual report is a short persuasive essay that must incorporate both pro and con arguments using notes.

Group Presentation Matrix


Topic

Pro Arguments

Con Arguments

Overall position

Scientist














Military Advisor













Political Advisor













Japanese Survivor












Position Paper Rubric




  1. Your group clearly identified and position given: 5 4 3 2 1

  2. 5 reasons given for the position your group takes 10 8 6 4 2

  3. 5 examples of evidence given to support the 5 reasons 10 8 6 4 2

Total: /25

Comments:
Poster Presentation Rubric


  1. Poster provides clear pro/con reasons for decision to drop bomb from either a scientist, military leader, political advisor, or survivor’s perspective: 10 8 6 4 2

  2. Group works well together to complete poster and presentation; all group members contribute: 10 8 6 4 2

  3. Poster uses creativity/visual elements/symbols to enhance meaning: 10 8 6 4 2

  4. Group members speak loudly, show eye contact with audience, display enthusiasm/interest in presentation: 10 8 6 4

Total: /40


Comments:

Scoring Guide for Individual Report

Task: You have heard four different positions on the decision to drop the atomic bomb. Based on all the evidence, did President Truman make the correct decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945? Your answer should take a clear position and include the perspective of all four groups we studied.

Standard Component: (H/SS 11.7.7): Discuss the decision to drop the atomic bomb and the consequences of the decision (Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Exemplary (Exceeds the Standard) 45-50 points:


  • All proficient criteria are met, plus:

  • Essay persuasively argues for or against the dropping of the bomb.

Proficient (Meets the Standard) 40-44 points:



  • Essay sets the context (explains background) for the decision to drop the bomb

  • Essay mentions the four different perspectives we studied

  • Essay format is correct

  • Few or no errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation

Progressing (Progressing Toward the Standard) 30-39 points:



  • At least 3 of the proficient criteria are met

  • Work contains numerous spelling and/or legibility errors

  • Not all the perspectives included.

Comments:
Not Yet Meeting the Standard 0-29 points:

  • Fewer than 2 of the proficient criteria are met

  • Only one perspective included.

  • Mechanical errors make essay difficult to read

Peer Evaluation (Optional)


Self-Evaluation
Teacher Evaluation

Website Note-Taking Matrix

Group:____________





Website Name

Reasons for Dropping Bomb

Reasons for Not Dropping Bomb




































Position Paper Graphic Organizer (especially for ELL students)
Body Paragraph

Topic Sentence: ________________ supported/opposed the decision to drop the atomic bomb for three main reasons: ________________, __________________, ________________


Reason 1: The most important reason ____________________ supported/opposed the decision to drop the bomb was ____________________________________________.

The evidence he gave to support this position was _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Reason 2: The second-most important reason ____________________ supported/opposed the decision to drop the bomb was ____________________________________________.

The evidence he gave to support this position was _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Reason 3: The third reason ____________________ supported/opposed the decision to drop the bomb was ____________________________________________.

The evidence he gave to support this position was _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Intro Paragraph
Explain who you researched (scientist, military leader, advisor, Japanese survivor) and what role he or she played in the decision to drop the bomb.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Main idea: Explain your person’s position on dropping the bomb. Did he or she support it or not? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________






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