Reaction to Moon Landing: America vs. Russia

Target Audience:
The target audience for this would be a high school or college US History class, particularly one that covered the 1900s. Ideally, if this was a high school course, it would be used on APUSH students, as they may have a more solid understanding of Cold War politics.

In general, the target audience would need to acquire some kind of understanding of Cold War politics, as well as the general rivalry that the United States and Russia have had since. In this case, there will be a short article provided as a means to brush up on the main points. This particular lesson would work well right after discussing both the moon landing and Sputnik. This would allow the students to see a bit of the rivalry between the US and Russia play out in the form of the “Space Race.” The “Space Race”, of course, being a period in time where these two led the charge worldwide to see who could do everything from launching satellites, putting living creatures in space, putting humans in space, and finally – putting a man on the moon. This was no small feat, and understanding how many failed attempts went into each of these missions would only create a better experience for the students completing this activity. Likewise, allowing the students to learn about Sputnik and Apollo 11 would hopefully emphasize how much of a “victory” each of these countries received from beating the other to these given milestones.

The point of this activity to is allow students to view each country’s reaction to these milestones so they can create the connections that the “victory” that was felt on each end was more than just a scientific milestone being reached. In particular, the students will be able to make the connection between the significance of becoming the victor of the space race, and the symbolic victor between the Western and Non-western world.

1) Students will read this article at the beginning of the class (Should take 5 minutes or so)

2) Students will be assigned to groups

3) Students will be given a series of guiding questions (provided on the Jamboard), and will be sent to look at a series of photos from the post-Sputnik period and the post-Moon landing position.

4) Students will open the Jamboard provided, as well as view this image provided by Getty Images and Bettmann.

5) Students will spend 10 minutes observing the photos and answering the questions.

6) Students will be called back, and asked for their interpretation/ to share any interesting observations about the photos.

7) Students will then debriefed by the teacher answering the question of what was different about each country’s reaction, and why this may have been.

Russian Newspaper photo from Getty Images and Bettmann
Featured Image taken from Pixabay

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