For Students

The world was in crisis when WWII started. The Allies needed to fight battles in very different places, spread all over the world. They needed new tools, new technologies, and ways to send material and people all over the world.

This time of great necessity led to great innovation. During the wartime years we not only made an amazing number of boats, planes, trucks, and tanks, but we prepared 16 million soldiers for war, and got them and everything they needed where they had to be. We developed radar, nuclear power, and portable radio. We created new materials, and found new uses for old ones. 

In a time of great need, society turned to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (called STEM for short) to solve problems. Men and women of all sorts of backgrounds came through, finding solutions to our big problems, using knowledge, teamwork, persistence and creativity. 

The same is true today. Society always turns to STEM professionals. With the same characteristics of knowledge, teamwork, persistence and creativity you can solve today and tomorrow’s problems, and find a great career for yourself.

About This Project

Real World Science is part of an effort by The National World War II Museum to use The War That Changed The World to teach how society turns to STEM when it faces big problems. We  are committed to helping teachers show students how STEM works, why it is important, and what it takes to succeed in STEM.

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Primary Sources

Primary sources are documents or objects from the time of the events that you are looking at. For example, if you are studying how the military used new medical innovations to treat wounded soldiers, you would look at first aid kits from the war, training manuals for medical staff, and any equipment you could find from the time.

This section of the site has some objects and other resources from during the war that you can use to learn about how we used STEM to win the war.

Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
This image of a Coast Guard Medic of the 3rd Naval District shows the use of another WWII era innovation—the use of plasma to treat wounded soldiers.
Map of Japanese Islands
Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
As the electronics behind radar improved, the Allies were able to use it to make maps and track weather. This is a map of the Japanese islands taken on July 28th of 1945 by the 20th Air Force. 
Radio & Radar Cluster
Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
These improvements in radar and radio meant that ships crossing the ocean could have more information. They could receive orders, locate enemy craft, and send updates all while being thousands of miles into the ocean. This is the radio and radar cluster on the mast of the Admiral W L Capps, taken in September of 1945. 
Microwave Transmitters
Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
Advances in Radar also led to advances in Radio. This poster shows microwave transmitters on top of buildings in New York. With microwaves radio signals could be sent long distances, and with repeaters a message could be sent around the world.
Microwave Tubes
Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
Electronics was a huge area of innovation during WWII. All the ships and airplanes carried large electrical systems, depending upon tubes for switching and other functions. The improvements made in production of tubes allowed the development of new radar and communications systems. These are microwave tubes made by General Electric in 1945.
Norden Bombsight
Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
The Norden Bombsight showcased many innovations in mechanics (with its multiple gyroscopes), optics, and electronics. These bombsights could take control of the plane and navigate accurately for targeting after the bombardier set them up.
Radar Image of North Sea
Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
This radar image of the North Sea taken in 1944 shows the coastline of Northern Europe. It was taken by a bomber in the 8th Air Force. 
Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
Radar was a very import technological innovation of WWII. The US and Great Britain both used radar, especially in aeronautics. This is a radar control room staffed by both British and American soldiers who are tracking bombers from the 8th Air Force on a raid into Germany.
Typhoon Destruction
Image from the collection of The National WWII Museum.
Radar could allow the tracking of storms, but it didn’t lessen their destructive power. This is an image of the destruction caused by Typhoon Connie on Okinawa in June of 1945. This was the second of the typhoons that damaged Admiral Halsey’s fleet.
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