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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Document Based Question on the Manhattan Project

Grade Level:


Students are introduced to the Manhattan Project with film and open discussion, then use primary source documents to write an essay about the Manhattan Project. Submitted by Jeff Carr.






Students will achieve and understanding of:

  • The science that led to the atomic bomb
  • The comparisons to other scientific achievements
  • The historical significance
  • Problem-solving issues
  • Leadership
  • The future ramifications



  • Introductory Lecture and overview
    1. Viewing of "A Sense of Place," a clip of the explosion over Hiroshima and its aftermath
    2. Read about Harry Truman and his decision to drop the bomb
    3. Socratic dialogue of the decision to drop the bomb.
    4. Introduction to the Document Based Question (DBQ) Essay
    5. Writing of DBQ
    6. Optional field trip to Los Alamos
  • Students produce an original DBQ Essay based on the DBQ Essay Packet that is provided at class.
  • Students will participate in an open discussion on how to approach the DBQ process.