Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WWII Field Trips, and Bomber Activity

When she heard we were learning about World War II, one of our neighbors volunteered to tell us about her father and father-in-law's experiences in the war. We went over to her house one day and listened to stories about her father working as a radar operating aboard a submarine in the Pacific, and some of her husband's dad's memories about life before and during the War. It was fascinating! Hearing about what life was like in Salt Lake City, for regular families a lot like us, was a whole different perspective than the more generic one we got from most books about "War life in the United States." And, our friend also had her dad's old navy uniform and coat, which she showed us! It was pretty sobering to see Abe holding it up and think about how boys only a few years older than him were going off to war.
Warm lining from the Navy-issued coat her Dad wore
Another day, we drove up to the aircraft museum in Layton. We're always happy to have an excuse to visit the Hill Air Force Base, but this time our field trip was made extra awesome because we met friends there—and THEY brought their friend, a World War II Veteran, to talk to us! He was amazing. It was an honor to meet him.
The museum owns one of the very kinds of planes he flew in the war. He told us about being shot full of holes over Germany, and making an emergency landing with all his engines out. He was miraculously unhurt, but some of his crew were killed at their posts on that mission. It was incredible to hear about all this firsthand.
We also got to see one of the Norden bombsights, a cool innovation during the war that we'd read about in several airplane books

We didn't spend as much time on military planes as we might have, having covered them earlier during our Aviation Unit, but we did do an activity where we tried to drop gummy bears into paper cups on the ground while running past them at full speed. This is a very small taste of what pilots had to do when dropping bombs (and which the Norden bombsight helped with!). The children loved it.
Some of them took "at full speed" more literally than others...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The atomic bomb

We did a whole unit on Nuclear Energy a few years ago. It was one of our favorite units! You can find all the posts about that unit aggregated here.

The Nuclear Museum in Albuquerque.

Hydrogen bombs vs. atom bombs

Great article on why we dropped the atomic bomb. And some more good resources on the same subject. Definitely worth watching and teaching. I found a real lack of good information on this subject elsewhere, as most children's books and other modern resources have a sort of glib "we all know better now" sensibility on the subject.

Abe and I LOVED this book, Bomb, by one of our favorite authors, Steve Sheinkin. There is SO MUCH intrigue and so many behind-the-scenes details I had never before heard about. It reads like a mystery novel.

I can also recommend this book (for adults and older children), Hiroshima Diary, which is a journal written by a doctor in Hiroshima in the weeks immediately following the Hiroshima bomb. It is fascinating, sad, and surprisingly good-humored as well. The author seems like a pretty amazing man.
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