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U.S. Navy Museum Cold War Gallery Lesson Plan
Cold War Slang Can Be Your "Thang"; Using Navy Terminology to Learn About the Cold War
Developed by Cindy Woolston, Brunswick High School, Brunswick, MO
2012 Naval Historical Foundation STEM-H Teacher Fellowship

  Instructional Goal

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Cold War Slang Can Be Your "Thang":
  1. Become familiar with Navy jargon and procedures.
  2. Learn about the Cold War through the eyes of a Sailor.
  3. Practice creative writing utilizing to Cold War events and the experiences of submariners.

The Cold War refers to the post World War II confrontation between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. From 1945 to 1991 international policies were shaped by intense rivalries between these two groups - noncommunist and communists. This led to military coalitions, weapons development, space race, espionage, and propaganda. It included the "hot" wars of the Cold War: Korea and Vietnam. The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

View "The U.S. Navy in the Cold War" for a ten minute summary of the U.S. Navy's role across 5 decades following World War II:

play videoThe U.S. Navy and the Cold War:  This film was produced for the Cold War Gallery, part of the National Museum of the United States Navy. It gives an overview of the U.S. Navy's role in our nation's nearly 50-year conflict with the Soviet Union.


play videoCommon Acronyms:  The Navy has its own special lingo, and it can be overwhelming to those who are not familiar with it. In this video, take a look at some of the most widely used Navy acronyms.

play videoAt Sea - Life on a Submarine:  Step inside of the Control Room and see what life is like onboard a nuclear military submarine.

play videoBecoming a U.S. Navy Nuke:  Nuclear Machinist's Mate Alicia Ferrell relates her firsthand experiences about becoming a Navy Nuke and working on nuclear reactors.

play videoCrew's Mess:  This is a video of the Crew's Mess display in the Covert Submarine Operations exhibit in the Cold War Gallery.

Navy website listing popular Navy jargon and lingo:  www.navy.mil/navydata/traditions/html/navyterm.html.

FAQ about life on a submarine:  www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/faq.html.

Dozens of videos from the Cold War Gallery:  www.youtube.com/user/coldwargallery.

Flashcards of Cold War terminology:  www.studystack.com/flashcard-206604.

Naval Sea Systems Command Glossary of words:  www.navsea.navy.mil/Outreach/STEM_Outreach_Crossword_Glossary.pdf.

Naval Sea Systems Command's STEM outreach page:  www.navsea.navy.mil/Outreach.aspx.

Lesson Activity


Student journal/diary and internet access for visiting the resource links above.


Surf the websites listed above to learn more about life on a submarine and the Cold War. Record various terms and their use. Imagine you are a U.S. Submariner during the Cold War and write a journal entry detailing a day in your life. Use as many slang words from the websites as you can. You may want to include drawings and doodles in addition to your journal entry.


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