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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Deciding to Use the Bomb



Students write a chapter in a documentary based on primary resources.



Selected readings from The Manhattan Project by Cynthia Kelly:

  • Excerpt from the Franck report, "Advising Against the Bomb"
  • Excerpt from the Science Panel's Report to the Interim Committee, "No Acceptable Alternative"
  • Gar Alperovitz, "Why Does This Decision Continue to Haunt Us?"
  • J. Samuel Walker, "Hiroshima in History"
  • Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, "Anticipating the End of War"
  • Leo Szilard, "Scientists Petition the President"
  • Patrick M.S. Blacket, "A Question of Motives"
  • Paul Fussell, "Thank God for the Atom Bomb"
  • Mac computer capable with iMovie, Quicktime (for recording and exporting) and Internet access (for high school)




For middle school students:

  • Have students write a script for a chapter of a hypothetical documentary on the decision to drop the bomb (approximately three pages). Have the students identify places in the script for B-roll and have them write which images/newspaper articles/videos they would use in those places.


For high school students:

  • After they hand in the scripts for editing, return it to them with the intention of creating the film. Have the students utilize iMovie (or other editing system) to make this come to life. These mini-documentaries should not be more than one or two minutes.
  • The students then show their documentaries to the class. In order to promote diversity in the submissions, encourage students to conduct outside research for better B-roll and utilize the AHF website and the photos/videos available via the website. This assignment is better suited for a new media class, or an AP-level history course teaching the atomic bomb.