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  • POTW exhibit at WSU through April 5, 2013
  • POTW exhibit in Portland May 3 - June 14, 2013

WANMEC is made possible by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

With support and additional funding from INND and
Support this project by donating to WPSR today.

Introduction to curriculum

Welcome to Hanford: Educating for Activism, an interdisciplinary curriculum based around the Hanford Site in Eastern Washington. After years of plutonium production it will take decades to clean up the radioactive waste stored at Hanford. The involvement of the citizens of Washington is essential and the more educated on the complex history of the facility and its surrounding area, the better decisions they will be able to make. With this program we hope to provide educators with the tools to encourage future generations to become involved and to strengthen the public’s voice on Hanford related issues.

Download text document for Educating for Activism

What is Covered

Hanford Lessons: Educating for Activism (HLEA) is aimed at college freshman in the state of Washington. It is focused on the area that became the Hanford nuclear reservation, the Columbia River, and the Tri-Cities. The curriculum is divided into six modules, each of which highlights a different period of Hanford history. Geological History covers the formation of the continent and Washington’s unique geological record. Native American Settlement looks at the history and culture of the first residents of the area. Home to New Settlers covers European American’s settlement of the land from the expedition of Lewis and Clark to the end of the Great Depression. The Reactor Development section covers the origins of the Manhattan project to the use of atomic weapons on Japan and the end of World War II. The Cold War module chronicles the buildup of the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal, to which Hanford supplied two thirds of the plutonium, in their arms race against the Soviet Union. The section on Cleanup and Restoration focuses on the more recent history of environmental cleanup at Hanford, to include the Tri-Party Agreement, issues of nuclear waste storage, and Hanford’s future. The modules will detail the important events, decisions and outcomes that shaped the specific time period covered. This curriculum will have an interdisciplinary focus, using history, society, culture, and the arts to provide a holistic understanding of Hanford and its impacts on the world that will appeal to multiple learning styles.

Each module will be accompanied by slide presentations and a supplementary script for the presenter. There will be links to reading materials, videos and audio resources. In addition, WPSR will provide test questions, essay questions, discussion questions, and project ideas that teachers can incorporate into their lesson plans and course activities as desired.

The curriculum works in conjunction with two other WPSR projects. The first is Particles on the Wall (POTW), a multi-disciplinary exhibit using visual art, literary works, science, and memorabilia to explore the nuclear age and the world wide impacts of the Hanford nuclear site. There is a book companion to the POTW exhibit that is available as a free download. The other project is the Washington Nuclear Museum and Educational Center (WANMEC) (, a WPSR created virtual museum to provide a source for information on Washington State's involvement in nuclear weapons research, weapons production, and proliferation. The site augments objective facts with personal testimonials, nuclear inspired artwork, essays, and other mediums, in order to bring the feelings and emotions that accompany these subjects to the forefront. The goal is to provide users with a greater understanding of not only the nuclear history of Washington State but also the ripples it has left in its wake. Besides the free online sources, there will be a bibliography of relevant texts with discussion questions for the students.

Goals of the Course

The overall goal of HLEA is to equip students with the knowledge of Hanford so they will be able to contribute to the public voice on the future of clean up. Hanford is a complicated and nuanced topic with many stakeholders and interested participants concerned about cleanup. At the end of the course students should be able to understand the many levels of Hanford and the various impacts that decisions at the site have on both the local and global scale.

Another goal is to have students learn from different disciplines. Besides reading text, students will also watch lectures, listen to oral histories, discuss art and poetry, and the people behind the science. Besides learning from disciplines, students should express what they learn in different ways to try and engage the public. The issues at Hanford affect everyone in Washington State. Students should not just be required to do homework and takes tests. They should be encouraged to take what they have learned inside the classroom and and focus on transforming their knowledge into demonstrable action.

To give an overview of Hanford download this slide presentation and this script

Oppenheimer/Trinity video

Barack Obama and Hanford

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