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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Life at Los Alamos

Grade Level:


Students will read and listen to firsthand accounts from the different Manhattan Project sites and then write a fictionalized personal narrative about the experience of working on the Manhattan Project.





Have students read selected essays from the section "Secret Cities" in The Manhattan Project anthology.  Suggested articles include:

  • "Learning on the Job"
  • "Life at P.O. Box 1663"
  • "A Boy’s Adventures at Los Alamos"
  • "Termination Winds"
  • "Ode to Life Behind the Fence"
  • "An answer to their prayers"

Students are also encouraged to read excerpts from Jon Hunner’s book Inventing Los Alamos: The Growth of an Atomic Community, which can be found at the page Multi-Ethnic Los Alamos.

Students will then write a few journal entries or a short story, imagining that they are a real or fictitious person who has just arrived at one of the main Manhattan Project sites (Los Alamos, Hanford, or Oak Ridge). What were their first impressions upon arrival? What kind of interactions have they had with other residents? How do they feel about their work and/or the secrecy surrounding the project?