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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

To Drop or Not to Drop?

Grade Level:


Students weigh the complicated decision to drop the bomb. Submitted by Patricia Largo.



  • Computer lab access
  • Printer access
  • Poster board




Day 1

Students will get into groups of two. Each group will choose from a hat a topic for or against dropping the Atomic Bomb on Japan.

  • The pro group will get statistics about how many lives had been lost so far from each country involved, estimates of how many people would die in main land invasion, and who would be involved in mainland invasion (countries and civilians)
  • The con group will receive information on the effects of radiation and the other options that policymakers considered.

Having a smaller piece to look up will help students to focus their efforts. They will need to find research on their topic as well as pictures, first hand accounts, maps and such to help make their point.


Day 2

All the students who were in the Pro and Con groups will meet again. From here, they will split. Instead of having 2 very large groups, each group will split in half making 4 groups; 2 for, 2 against. From here groups will make up a poster presenting their side of the argument. Each group will decide what their main argument will be. Posters should use research from previous day, such as pictures, stories, maps and such.


Day 3

Each group will present their poster. Everyone is group needs to talk about a part on the poster since each student should have contributed to it. During presentations students can be taking notes for counterarguments. After each group has presented, the teacher can supervise a debate. For homework, students will choose whatever side they personally believe in. Students will make a list from the debate or posters supporting why they feel this way. From this list, students will write a letter to the President of the United States advising him to drop or not to drop the atomic bomb.