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Cross-Curricular - Science
•&nbsp Explore the Global Dangers and Scientific Foundation of Nuclear Bombs
•&nbsp Track the Discovery, Spread and Control of Disease

Explore the Global Dangers and Scientific Foundation of Nuclear Bombs

The Activity

Ever since the first nuclear bomb was detonated in 1945, many countries have tried to put themselves on the international map as a nuclear power. One country that succeeded is Pakistan, and in February 2004, Pakistani scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed that he spread nuclear secrets and technology to additional countries: North Korea, Libya and Iran. In addition, Pakistan is engaged in an ongoing conflict with India, another nuclear state. Point out the location of each of these countries on a map. Then help students understand these global dangers and their scientific foundation by exploring the sources and properties of nuclear reactions.

Introduce the topic by having students read the Pakistan As a Nuclear Power section of the Facts & Stats page for the FRONTLINE/World story "Pakistan: On a Razor's Edge."
Allow students a few minutes to react to the reading. Ask, "Why do you think Pakistan thought it was so important to become a nuclear state?" and "What are the potential consequences of Dr. Khan's actions?" (Note: For more in-depth information on Dr. Khan's activities, please see Essential Backgrounders From The New York Times

Next, divide students into pairs and have them research how nuclear bombs work. Ask students to pay special attention to the transfer of energy that triggers a nuclear reaction and why such large amounts of energy are released from the nuclear reactions in atomic or hydrogen bombs. Students may find it helpful to begin their research with the HowStuffWorks feature How Nuclear Bombs Work

Student pairs should synthesize their research into a PowerPoint or other type of presentation that they can use to teach another pair in the class about how nuclear bombs work. After each pair has had a turn presenting, allow time for students to give feedback on each other's work and make content corrections on presentations before they are submitted for grading.


Visit the FRONTLINE/World story "On a Razor's Edge"
for more background and an insightful interview with Pakistani reporter Sharmeen Obaid.

Relevant National Standards

Physical Science
Standard 9: Understands the sources and properties of energy

Level III, Benchmark 6 Knows that most chemical and nuclear reactions involve a transfer of energy (e.g., heat, light, mechanical motion, electricity)
Standard 10: Understands forces and motion
Level IV, Benchmark 2 Knows that nuclear forces are much stronger than electromagnetic forces, which are vastly stronger than gravitational forces; the strength of nuclear forces explains why great amounts of energy are released from the nuclear reactions in atomic or hydrogen bombs and in the Sun and other stars

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Track the Discovery, Spread and Control of Disease

The Activity

Create a flow chart following the SARS crisis from its outbreak to the discovery that peptides can prevent the SARS virus from penetrating cells. Students can find information for their charts in the story overview
for "Hong Kong: Chasing the Virus" and in "Peptides, Antibodies, Membranes ... What?".
Students also can complete their flow charts by watching the video (about 13 minutes long) of this story.


Visit the "Hong Kong: Chasing the Virus" Web resources to find the features mentioned in this activity, to watch the full FRONTLINE/World segment in streaming video, or to gather related links and facts:

Relevant National Standards

Health, Standard 2: Knows environmental and external factors that affect individual and community health

Level IV, Benchmark 3
Understands how the environment influences the health of the community
Level IV, Benchmark 4
Understands how the prevention and control of health problems are influenced by research and medical advances
Life Sciences, Standard 5: Understands the structure and function of cells and organisms
Level III, Benchmark 4
Knows that multicellular organisms have a variety of specialized cells, tissues, organs and organ systems that perform specialized functions
Level III, Benchmark 8
Knows that disease in organisms can be caused by intrinsic failures of the system or infection by other organisms

Related Activities

This activity is part of a suite of activities developed around the theme of Environment. Additional activities under this theme include:

Address Concerns Caused by Conflict in Colombia (Geography)

Documenting a Historic Climb of Mount Everest (Geography)

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