Cold War Terms - The Space Race and the Arms Race
Updated: 3/29/2016
Cold War Terms - The Space Race and the Arms Race
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Cold War Lesson Plans

The Cold War: 1945-1962

Lesson Plans by Richard Cleggett

In the aftermath of World War II, global politics came to be dominated by a struggle between two great powers: The United States and the Soviet Union. These two nations defined the course of history in the second half of the 20th century, and the legacy of their Cold War continues to the present day.

Cold War: 1945-1962

Storyboard Description

Cold War Terms - The Space Race and the Arms Race - Using a spider graph, have students create a word map to identify and explain the major terminologies in defining and understanding the arms and space race of the Cold War. This will allow students to further understand just how close the countries came to nuclear war, as well as reinforce the idea of mutually assured destruction, that is, the nuclear destruction of both countries if one were to attack first. Students will be able to explain and define the terms that deepen the understanding of both technological races, as well as how it furthered tensions between the two superpowers of the world. The activity will also give credence to the ever expanding technological developments that continue to shape our world today.

Storyboard Text

  • APOLLO 11
  • Sputnik I is the name of the Soviet satellite launched in 1959. It was the first orbiting satellite ever launched, and was considered a great achievement by the Soviets. However, in relation to the Cold War, it increased tensions and fears of a Soviet attack and overall Soviet domination. It also increased America's efforts to improve its space programs.
  • The term Space Race refers to the efforts and improvements in space technologies on both the U.S. and Soviet sides. By initiating increased funding and research, both countries sought to out-do each other in the race to space. The Soviets would accomplish launching the first satellite into space, Sputnik I.
  • Apollo 11 was the space mission conducted by the United States, effectively putting the first man on the moon. Launched on July 20, 1969, the landing on the moon was seen as the peak of the space race. It also, however, brought about detente, or peaceful times between the Soviets and U.S. in terms of their relations.
  • Nuclear weapons function off of nuclear reactions, and are considered weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. dropped two nuclear atom bombs on Japan in 1945, and both the U.S. and Soviet Union aimed to stockpile and create as many devastating weapons as possible. This also, however, led to the realization of mutually-assured destruction.
  • The Arms Race refers to the efforts by both the Soviet Union and United States to increase, and advance, their arms. In particular, it was a race of nuclear weaponry that defined the Cold War. The race in increasing arms led to even further tension, and fear, of nuclear attacks and threats between the two nations.
  • "ICBMs" is the acronym used to describe intercontinental ballistic missiles, or missiles that could be launched between one continent and another. These types of weapons helped increase fear, as well as pushes by both the Soviets and Americans to increase their defenses and weaponry.

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