World War II and the Atomic Bomb News Project

In 1945, the war in Europe had ceased. However, in the Pacific, a fierce battle still waged on as Japan refused to end the fighting. Japan was threatened and urged to surrender. If they chose not to surrender, there would be dire consequences for the island nation. After severe warnings, President Harry S. Truman decided to enact and utilize the atomic bomb to end the war. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the sites of the two atomic bomb drops, forever changing warfare in the world. Students will investigate a variety of primary sources to further expand their depth of knowledge on the decision to utilize the atomic bomb and its effects on the Japanese people during WWII. Students will then present their findings in a news broadcast format. 

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Evaluate the topic or subject in multiple diverse formats and media.
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning supported by relevant and sufficient evidence.
Write an opinion piece evaluating the Manhattan Project, including the rationale for using the atomic bomb to end the war.
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Learning objectives: 

Students will be able to:

  • analyze and interpret primary sources in various forms, including photographs and written text
  • collaborate within groups in a simulation activity
  • evaluate the main points of a historical event from secondary sources
  • develop group research skills
  • write an argumentative essay
Essential and guiding questions: 

By analyzing the primary and secondary sources presented, what was the immediate impact of the bombings on the Japanese people and the affected areas? How did this lead to the decision to end the war? 

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 

Locate and view actual news footage from the 1945 bomb drops and have students compare and contrast their news broadcast versus the actual live reporters during this challenging era. There are several authentic clips on YouTube, from actual news coverage to accounts from survivors. Students should consider the following questions:

  • What key pieces of detail did you portray accurately?
  • In hindsight, how could your group improve upon your broadcast presentation?
  • Do you believe your newscast would have been well received in 1945?
  • After watching the actual broadcast and reflecting on the class presentations, which group do you believe best portrayed the actual events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Create a follow-up news report (or even a documentary clip) talking about the aftermath of the atomic bombs one year after the drop, or perhaps ten years afterwards. Incorporate long-range reflections from soldiers and civilians about the impact of the bombs, what the bombs achieved (or didn’t achieve), and how the Japanese reacted to defeat.

Helpful Hints


  • Manila folders or large brown envelopes
  • Print-outs of primary source images and texts (4 each)
  • Primary Source Analysis Tool: questions and worksheet
  • News Project Instructions & Reflections (2 pages long)
  • News Project Evaluation Rubric
  • World War II & the Atomic Bomb Essay Rubric