Getting Started (Part 1)
A Case Study
Nuclear testing in the South Pacific Ocean by France in 1995-96 sparked a renewed effort to protest and to show the dangers not only of nuclear weapons, but the development of those weapons. This unit uses France's recent tests as a case study for the global issues revolving around this potentially devastating technology.
Students will be engaged in an activity that will make them the players in a game of world diplomacy, with their decisions and compromises a model for others. Six groups will participate in a international summit on nuclear testing at the end of the unit. The participants include France, Australia, Greenpeace, Japan, the United States, and a group of moderators who will oversee the conference and draft a treaty to be signed by all. A scenario has been provided, along with resources pertinent to each group, questions to get the nations/organization started, and a vast supply of general resources. This activity brings together current events, research, analysis, cooperation, presentation, and compromise.
This unit is anchored in social studies, however, there is a component of science that will need to addressed because of the nature of the subject matter. This can be done in conjunction with a science teacher, or it can be incorporated into the social studies classroom.
The issue of nuclear testing and this unit fit into the California Department of Education History/Social Studies Frameworks in grades ten and eleven. Grade ten, World History, Culture, and Geography, includes a focus on "Unresolved Problems of the Modern World." The grade eleven framework, United States History and Geography: Continuity and Change in the Twentieth Century, examines the Cold War and the United States in Recent Times. Additionally, outside the framework, it could be incorporated as a current events or environmental activity.
Social Studies Standards Addressed
In addition to the specific content standards, this unit on nuclear testing will focus on the students' ability to work in cooperative groups, use critical thinking to develop arguments for a position they might not necessarily believe in, solve problems by compromise, acquire information from several sources, analyze information, use information to support specific arguments, and organize and express ideas clearly in writing and/or in speaking.
This unit is designed to take at least one full week. Actual instruction time will be limited to a general initial introduction to nuclear testing and to address any special needs
- Access to the Internet (in the classroom, library, or lab). At least one computer per group.
- Library access for addition research if needed.
- Materials for students to create charts, maps, etc.
- Resources (links) for specific groups will be provided on their pages.
This can be done with a single classroom social studies teacher. There is an element of science involved when addressing the effects of nuclear testing on the environment and human beings, this can either be taken on by the social studies teacher, or taught by a cooperating science teacher.
As the facilitator of this unit, you will need to be familiar with online search strategies. You should review the links provided for research and do any necessary outside research to familiarize yourself with specific questions regarding nuclear testing.
Your students must possess solid reading and writing skills, and working knowledge of the Internet.
Two rubrics are being designed to grade the students individually and as a group.
This unit brings an important issue to the forefront of students minds. While the threat nuclear annihilation no longer exists as it did during the Cold War, nuclear technologies still and are deadly as ever. Additionally, this unit allows students to roll play and participate in an activity based upon real life occurrences. Cooperative learning, research, the formation of an argument are all important educational elements that this unit addresses.