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Cuban Missile Crisis simulation

from International Spy Museum

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Will their analysis help to avoid nuclear catastrophe?

Students become intelligence analysts at the CIA in 1962 examining declassified intelligence documents and U-2 photographs at various stages of the crisis. In this social studies standards-based lesson, students are challenged to make decisions and recommendations based on primary documents and photos. The outcome of the crisis is in their hands.

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About This Program


Multipoint: $105.00
Multipoint Premium: $105.00
Point to Point: $105.00
Point to Point Premium: $105.00

Full program fee is due at time of program..


1 hour

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Homeschool/Family

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

International, Social Studies/History, Reading, Problem Solving, Gifted & Talented, Leadership

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)
Videoconference – Webcam/desktop (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Blue Jeans, etc...)
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Booking Information

This workshop is based on educator availability.

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Provider's Cancellation Policy

The program fee is non-refundable. If a program must be rescheduled, we require 48 hours notice. If a program must be cancelled due to weather, it can be rescheduled once within the same school year (depending on availability).

About This Provider

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International Spy Museum

Washington, District of Columbia
United States

The International Spy Museum holds the largest collection of spy-related artifacts on public view in the world. Our mission is to educate the public about espionage in an engaging way and to provide a context that fosters understanding of its important role in and impact on current and historic events. Using espionage as a lens to view traditional curriculum, the Museum provides unique programs and resources for both students and educators.

Lucy Stirn

Program Details


Students will "travel back in time" to October 1962 just as the Crisis is emerging. As All Source Analysts at the CIA, students are responsible for reviewing Cuban national reports indicating a Soviet offensive nuclear build-up on the island. They will determine if the reports are valid and recommend a course of action to President Kennedy.

In part 2, after recommending a U-2 spy plane overflight to obtain reconnaissance photos, students then analyze those photos to determine the extent of the offensive build-up.

Finally, in part 3, students triangulate all sources of intelligence, including a little known Soviet source, to provide President Kennedy with a final analysis. The program concludes dramatically when students examine the possible courses of action had the intelligence not been available, analyzed, and disseminated appropriately. They discover the value that different sources of intelligence have and compare this case to modern and current scenarios.


Students will be able to:
1. Analyze declassified CIA documents and make decisions based upon their content.
2. Explain the pros and cons of different types of intelligence sources (human intelligence versus imagery intelligence sources).
3. Describe the role intelligence collection and analysis efforts played in affecting President Kennedy’s decision-making process.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

Common Core Standards for ELL & Lit. in History/Social Studies , science, and tech. subjects:
- RL. 1
- RI.1, 2, 4, 6, 9
- W.1a + b
- SL.1d, 3, 4
- RH.1, 2, 4, 6, 9

Social Studies Curriculum Standards from Social Studies

• Ask questions related to culture and find, select, organize, and interpret data from research to address research questions.
• Evaluate how data and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.
• Analyze historic and current issues to determine the role that culture has played.

Time, Continuity, and Change:
• Evaluate the impact of the institutions, values, and beliefs of people in the past on important historical decisions and developments, and compare different interpretations of the causes and consequences of these decisions and developments.
• Research and analyze past periods, events, and recurring issues, using a variety of primary sources (e.g., documents, letters, artifacts, and testimony), as well as secondary sources; validate and weigh evidence for claims, check the usefulness and degree of reliability of sources, and evaluate different interpretations in order to develop their own interpretation supported by evidence.

People, Places, and Environments:
• Research, organize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information from atlases, data bases, grid systems, statistical presentations, charts, graphs, and maps to interpret relationships among geographic factors and events at the local, regional, national, and global levels, and assess policy options.
• Acquire, organize, and analyze geographic information from data sources, geographic tools and geospatial technologies such as aerial photographs, satellite images, and geographic information systems (GIS) to determine patterns.

Individuals, Groups, and Institutions:
• Understand examples of tensions between belief systems and governmental actions and policies.

Power, Authority, and Governance:
• Ask and find answers to questions about power, authority, and governance in the region, nation, and world.
• Evaluate the role of technology in communications, transportation, information-processing, weapons development, and other areas as it contributes to conflict and cooperation among groups and nations.
• Evaluate the extent to which governments achieve their stated ideals and policies at home and abroad.
• Analyze and evaluate conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to conflict and cooperation among groups and nations.

Science, Technology, and Society:
• Identify the purposes, point of view, biases, and intended audience of reports and discussions related to science and technology.

Civic Ideals and Practices:
• Identify assumptions, misconceptions, and biases in sources, evidence, and arguments used in presenting issues and positions.
• Identify, seek, describe, and evaluate multiple points of view about selected issues, noting the strengths, weaknesses, and consequences associated with holding each position.

State Standards

VA Standards of Learning –United States History: 1865 to Present
USII.8 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the economic, social, and political transformation of the United States and the world between the end of World War II and the present
USII.9: The student will demonstrate knowledge of the key domestic and international issues during the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries
VA Standards of Learning –Civics:
CE.1: The student will develop the social studies skills responsible citizenship requires, including the ability to (a) examine and interpret primary and secondary source documents.