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Putting It All Together

In this lesson, students learn how the escalation of the Cold War led to the development of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and the deployment of the Minuteman Missile system. The following activities will help students apply what they have learned.

Activity 1: The Minuteman: Part of our future or a relic of the past?
Although the Minuteman Missile force has been significantly reduced since the Cold War, it is still part of our national defense system today. The current Minuteman force consists of 500 Minuteman III's located at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, and Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Divide students into teams having each team research one of the following topics:

1. The Minuteman's role in the United States national defense system today.
2. Whether or not deterrence is still an effective means in avoiding armed conflict.
3. Current U.S. military conflicts.

Have each team share their findings in class. Hold a class discussion comparing and contrasting how today's conflicts differ from the Cold War.

Activity 2: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles: America's Cold War Deterrent
Divide students into four groups and assign each group one of America's ground-based missile forces during the Cold War: the Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, and Peacekeeper. Have the students research each missile's specifications such as height, weight, range, and warhead size plus the pros and cons of each specific one. In addition, have each group make a large design drawing of their missile. Students should present this information to the class. Then ask the students to determine which of these missiles is/was the best for United States defensive capabilities.

Activity 3: Nuclear and Cold War: A Shadow over the World
Have students conduct oral histories with their parents or community members who remember the Cold War. Some suggested questions might be:

A. What did they think would happen during the Cuban Missile Crisis?
B. Were there other times during the Cold War that they worried about a nuclear war?
C. Were they aware of the missile defense system in place?
D. How did they prepare for a possible nuclear war?
E. Did they believe a nuclear war was survivable?
F. What was their most memorable personal experience of the Cold War era?

After the interviews are completed have students discuss their interviews in class. Students should consider donating the oral histories to a local library or historical society to preserve these stories about the Cold War for future generations.

 

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