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Earth and Beyond

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To the Moon

  Full Moon
“To the Moon” Speech
President John F. Kennedy at Rice University, September 12, 1962
Sound(14.4 kbps)
Sound(28.8 kbps)
(running time: 17:24)

In 1962, the United States was experiencing turbulent times. The strength of the economy was questionable, civil rights demonstrations in the south were commonplace, and troubles in Cuba had brought the country to the brink of war. The U.S. was in a race against the USSR for the upper-hand in space, and it was already behind.

Listen to the speech by President John F. Kennedy on the call for space exploration and answer the questions below.

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What effect do you think this speech had on public opinion toward the U.S. space program? On a scale from 0 to 100, how would you grade this speech and why?

One year and one month after he gave this speech, President Kennedy was assassinated. What effect did this have on the moon goal?

Why have humans not been back to the moon since the early 1970s?

What did the United States have to gain by completing a successful lunar mission? What were the risks involved?

Future Plan

  1. Gather all your great ideas and research materials, brainstorm more great ideas with others, and make a plan for the future to answer this question:

Should we go back to the moon? Why or why not?

  2. Choose one of these styles for your presentation: pursuasive speech, science article, science fiction story.
  3. When you’re finished, present your plan to the class. The presentation should give an overview of the steps in your plan, explain who should be responsible for executing each step, and describe what costs and benefits are associated with the plan. You can enhance the presentation with audiovisual materials, models, and demonstrations. Presentations will be evaluated on:
  • Clear definition of the problem or need.
  • Clear presentation of facts and sources.
  • Organization (beginning, middle, and end).
  • Group participation and attentiveness during other presentations.
  • Effect on the audience.