The Manhattan Project²

 Wow, first post of the school year! 

From previous posts you can see that in PLP we go on field trips to deepen our knowledge. This year our trip was pretty early into the school year. Our field trip was to Oregon/Washington for four days! Another blog will be coming soon with more details of the feild trip!



Our unit this term was the Manhattan Project. Before I go into depth into our task, I’ll give you a brief over view of what the Manhattan Project is. The project was an American top secret project. The project was to create an atomic bomb to plant on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to make the Japanese surrender at the end of WWII.


For this bomb to be developed, sites for research, and manufacturing  needed to be found. Hanford was one of the sites that they selected. For the bomb they needed a place where they could produce plutonium. Hanford fit all the criteria, in the middle of nowhere and near where Uranium was found. All the sites took place all across the US (and Canada). Main three sites were, Richland (Hanford, plutonium), Oak Ridge (home base, working on uranium separation) and Los Alamos (the making and testing of the bombs).

On our field trip we had the opportunity to visit the Hanford site. While we were visiting, our task was to research a topic about Hanford and create a video in groups of 3/4. Sounds simple right? Not quite, a lot of research was needed and we had to collect as much evidence from our field trip to back up our statement. Robbie and Alex were apart of my group. Together we decided to research the environmental impact from Hanford, since the materials the site used were very radioactive. 

Take a look at our video to discover the environmental impacts from Hanford:

Now lets rewind and I’ll explain how we got to our final product.

Research time…

The Manhattan project was a huge significance in American history. It was also advanced the knowledge of the atomic age, since it was the first ever atomic bomb created. Now your probably wondering what was the point of all the effort into creating a bomb and dropping it on a city with innocent individuals. In fact the budget was 2.2million dollars and around 600,000 people were involved in the project.

The United States had multiple reasons for the project. To start with, the US had the tools they needed, so I mean why not? A huge trigger was the fact that there were suspicions that the Nazi’s were on the path to creating a bomb as well. You could say there was a race among the allies of who could create an atomic bomb first. The final reason is tensions between the relationship of Japan and the US rose after the Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. However, the decision of dropping the bomb on Japan was all up to President Truman.

Our first assignment was to create a news reel about Truman’s important decision. A news reel was essentially how people got updated news. 

News Reel on the Pacific War:

(Adam, Claire and Alex were in my group)

As I said earlier the atomic bomb required a vast team, around 600,000 individuals. We did a lot of research to discover more about the behind the scenes of the project, and who was in charge. An activity to learn more about the workers was to create a character card. Each student researched a different worker of the Manhattan Project.

From my card you can tell that J. Robert Oppenheimer played a very significant role in the creation of the atomic bomb. He was the chief scientific director, was in charge of the science and making the bomb work. He also managed over 3,000 people. The class all participated in a game that advanced our knowledge of the cite and introduced us to new faces.

In the game I discovered another significant member of the team, Enrico Fermi.

Enrico Fermi

He created the very first chain reaction (critical to the project). He joined project in 1944, and he proved that making a chain reaction is possible. A lot of science was behind the bomb. Before 1945 weapons were chemical reactions, such as gas. Nuclear weapons use strong nuclear force for destruction, inherently more powerful than any possible chemical reaction. 

Here is what a chain reaction looks like:

Here is how nuclear fusion works:

Nuclear fusion: is the bringing together of two smaller atoms to form a form a larger one.

Nuclear fission was discovered by Enrico Fermi in the 1930’s. Fermi demonstrated that elements subjected to neutron bombardment could be transformed into new elements. This discovery sparked research around the world.

The after mass…

The bomb had a lot of after mass after it was dropped. After Truman decided to use the bomb and it was loaded on the plan “Enola Gay”.

The uranium Bomb nicknamed, Little Boy was dropped on August 6, 1945, Japan still didn’t surrender. The plutonium bomb nicknamed Fat Man, was dropped a few days later on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. After the second bomb the Japanese surrendered. It took around 43 seconds to destroy Hiroshima. It resulted in 4.4 square miles flattened. 80,000 people were killed instantly 100,000 people survived but wounded. In Nagasaki 40,000 were killed instantly, 60,000 wounded. August 13, 1945, Japan formally surrendered to the US. The Americans saw this as pride for their country, it was an end to WWII.                                                                                                         

Our project…

Back to the project. Our videos were based on a TV episode, History in 5. There is a lot of information about the story of Hanford. It used to be a village called White Bluffs, until the project came along and in 1943 took over the village.

Our videos had to follow the same format as the one above. Intro, five points and the conclusion.

We picked our main topic and then had five supporting points. Our topic was five things you didn’t know about the pollution at Hanford, also known as  the most toxic place in America. Our five supporting points were:

Made with Mindnode

 In PLP we revise, and learn from our mistakes to conclude with a fresh product. That being said many steps were taken once we had done all of our research:

Made with Sketches Pro

Our first draft was pretty rough. We had written a pretty long script and the video almost seemed like a podcast. The only thing we kept from that draft was the amazing intro Robbie created using Video Lab.

While we were on the field trip, we gathered all the media we needed, such as B-Roll, interviews to back up our points, more key information and finally to film clips of the presenter (me). In Oregon we also went to other locations to that was all related to the Manhattan Project. For example we visited the Reach Museum where our group found more information of the wildlife that lived in the Columbia River.

Finally to tie the whole unit together, we started to research the Cold War. We were given a package (Roots of the Cold War) full of key information that we could use to answer questions about the Cold War. We haven’t discussed the Cold War with a lot of detail, however it sparked the idea of communism and capitalism in our heads. 

Wow, overall I have learned so much from this feild trip! Actually visiting all the cites where the atomic bomb was created was amazing. The bombs were created in such a short period time which was very impressive. I never new learing about bombs would be so interesting. This unit got me thinking of what the world is really capable of!

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