C U R R I C U L U M M A T E R I A L S
The relationship between war and technological advancement is in many ways a symbiotic one. The development of penicillin during
World War II is a perfect case study of that
relationship. The background essay and the
activities that follow provide students with an
opportunity to look at the war as more than a
time of madmen and genocide. They will
examine the ironic role of the war as a catalyst
to the discovery of this "wonder drug."
Connection with the Curriculum
This material may be used primarily with
American history classes, but may also be
used with classes on Illinois history. The activities may be appropriate for the Illinois Learning
Standards 16.A.3c; 16.A.4a; 16.D.5(US);
Materials for Each Student
• A copy of the narrative portion of the article
• Handouts 1 -3
• An American history textbook
Objectives for Each Student
• Identify key events in the development of
penicillin and examine their relationship with
the unfolding events of World War II.
• Work in pairs to create wartime propaganda
posters that illustrate the importance of
penicillin to the Allied cause.
• Personalize the experiences of wartime
medical researchers and their work.
TEACHING THE LESSON
Opening the Lesson
Review with the students the technological
developments that came out of World War I,
such as poison gas and the machine gun. Ask
students to describe how those developments
affected the future of humanity. Then discuss
whether they think that a war could ever give
rise to beneficial technology. Why?
Developing the Lesson
• For Activity 1, have the students read the
narrative portion of the article and review
their textbook's chapter on the events of
World War II. Have them create a comparative timeline of events. The summary question may serve as the basis for a class discussion.
• For Activity 2, have the class discuss the
uses of penicillin and what steps were
involved in its production. Then, meeting
with their partners, have the students brainstorm a list of images and slogans that
would be appropriate for a wartime propaganda poster dealing with penicillin production and/or use.
• Students should complete Activity 3
Concluding the Lesson
Have students read an excerpt from their
researcher's journal aloud to the class.
Extending the Lesson
Research the development of penicillin or
other drugs in Axis Power countries.
Assessing the Lesson
Students create "products" in each activity
for which the instructor should develop grading
criteria. In addition, students can be assessed
with a quiz or test.
On the timeline below, using the article and your textbook chapter, list key events in the development of penicillin and in the progression of World War II. After you have finished, complete the
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PENICILLIN THE DEVELOPMENT OF WAR
What connections can you make between the development of penicillin and the development
of World War II?
Working in pairs, create a wartime propaganda poster encouraging or supporting the mass
production of penicillin. Follow the steps listed below:
- List the possible uses for penicillin in the war and the steps in its production.
- Brainstorm with your partner a list of images and slogans you might use for your poster.
For example, a room full of sick soldiers declaring, "Farmers, we need your corn to save
- Create your poster.
Imagine you are a medical researcher working at the Northern Regional Research Lab at
Peoria during the 1940s. Write three wartime journal entries in which you discuss the following:
• Your setbacks
• Your successes
• The significance of your work
Click Here to return to the Article