• Hello reader, I am once again back with an end up unit reflection post, this time on our most recent unit the Manhattan Project². This project covered knowledge of the Manhattan Project set up by the American government during WWII to build an atomic bomb to use on the enemy. To demonstrate our learning, the entire class made conceptual art pieces that showed how historically significant the atomic bomb is throughout our whole world even to this day. These art pieces were organized by four categories: Society & Culture, Science & Technology, Politics, and Ethics & Philosophy. These themes made up the rooms in which the art pieces were displayed at the annual winter PLP Exhibition. I was in the Society and Culture group along with Holly, Ciara, Asha, Owen, Meg, and Julia. Within this group Holly and Ciara were curators and the rest of us were historians challenged with making a historical significance display for the entire room. Everyone in the group including myself recognized that on the day of exhibition, I stepped into a 3rd curator type of role especially when making and setting up the historical display and setting up the room. It was important as a grade 12 to use the leadership skills I have gained throughout my time in high school. While I was busy with an outside of school commitment during the actual exhibition, my help in setting up and creating the vision for the room made up for my lack of being there. Our room came together really well and went along with our theme of a reflection on society (enhanced by scattering mirrors around the room). I believe the whole exhibition was a success and us grade 11 and 12s pulled everything together so now it’s time to dig deeper into my individual learning this project.

In this project we individually answered the driving question: “How did the development of the atomic bomb change the world?” While this could have been answered in many ways I believe my final conceptual art piece is where I formalized my final answer and opinion the most. Personally I believe the development of the atomic bomb changed the way countries interact with each other on a global scale and will do for a very long time. There is knowledge in the world that if any country with atomic weapons got into conflict, the entire human race could be wiped out. For my art piece I narrowed this down into one notable change that occurred, being the growth of America’s military Superpower status. My artist statement goes into great detail about why I chose to represent this phenomenon as I did and how the bomb led to this change in global powers, feel free to read it HERE. To briefly summarize for those who chose not to read the statement, my argument was that America dropping the atomic bomb ignited the arms race, forcing them to become a super power which over time spiralled into the America we know today and the attitudes towards the country. I am extremely proud of my final product as I believe my argument is extremely strong and shows my deep thinking and my usage of connection to current events. I also was very happy with how my art piece turned out even if I was skeptical of my idea at first. Ideally if I were a professional artist I would have liked to have made a full scale model and projected a shadow onto an entire wall but with time and money constraints I’m pleased with what I accomplished.

During this project the phrase historical significance were used constantly in our classroom but at the beginning we had to establish what it truly meant. We learned the difference between history, everything to happen ever, and historically significant events, notable, long lasting, widespread, and symbolic events to take place in the past. As a class we had a milestone to write a blog showing our understanding of historical significance and I chose to write mine using the example of the Stonewall Riots. My Stonewall post was a strong piece of work that demonstrated how we make choices about what is worth remembering. I had prior knowledge on Stonewall from some Zettelkasten notes I made last spring but chose to find even more sources explaining the true impact it left on the world. Both my final art piece and my Stonewall historical significance blog post are strong exemplars of my ability to establish historical significance.

Zettelkasten Note

Another major piece to this project was a novel study on the book Hiroshima by John Hersey. This book, originally an article published in the New Yorker in 1946, is an extremely historically significant text as it was one of the earliest, if not the first, times Americans got to see the Japanese perspective of the atomic bomb. Reading this book was not the easiest for me as I do not have a lot of great experience at literary analysis, besides previous PLP projects. However, over the course of writing 3 different response journals I felt I made critical connections and got a deeper understanding of the significance this bomb had on the Japanese people. While I could never relate out connect to living through a war or a bomb explosion I tried to find other ways to go deeper with this novel. I found myself wanting to empathize with characters often so one time I connected my emotions during the Covid-19 lockdown to the emotions of Mrs Nakamura, one of the main characters. This strategy of connecting things I learn and know about in the present day to the content I learn in school is something I have always excelled at and I believe my 3 journals response, but specifically the last one support that.

Response Journal Improvement

Throughout this unit I was battling myself over motivation and drive to do my work. This term was stressful for me with university applications, other classes, outside of school theatre commitments, and band events. While this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten overwhelmed with work, this time I wasn’t using the best strategies I could have to get back on my feet. I struggled with procrastination and so going into the new year I want to have a plan for my learning. Reflecting back on this unit I am still very proud of what I accomplished and don’t believe much, if any, of my work was below my usual standard. Going forward I will bring back my passion for learning and my motivation to be on top of things like due dates. It was all good learning experience and in the end the work I created and the thinking I did made it all worth it.