History KS3: Neil Armstrong - First person on the Moon

Dermot O’Leary learns how American Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind” to become the first person to walk on the Moon.

Aged 21, Armstrong was a fighter pilot for the US in the Korean War - nearly losing his life on one of his missions.

After the war he tested some of the fastest planes, including the rocket propelled X-15, which he flew beyond the edge of Earth’s atmosphere to the edge of space.

On July 16, 1969, he was sat in an Apollo spacecraft atop the Saturn V, a rocket with the power of an atomic bomb, that sent the spacecraft to the Moon.

Four days later Armstrong commanded the ‘Eagle’ lunar module as it landed on the Moon’s surface, despite a warning signal and briefly losing contact with mission control. The whole world watched on television as Armstrong stepped onto the Moon’s surface and spoke the words, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’.

The moonwalk happened at a time when America was struggling with deep social divisions and helped bring society together for a common cause.

Neil Armstrong’s achievement was a reflection of a nations will to go to an unknown and he became a symbol of hope for the future of mankind.

This short film is from the BBC series, Icons.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3 - History

This short film could be used to prompt a discussion on:

  • Key American figures in the 20th century
  • The American space programme
  • American national identity in the 1960s
  • Social history of America in the 1960s
  • The history of exploration
  • The American/USSR space race
  • 20th century science history

Key Stage 3 - Physics

This short film could be used in a science class to introduce:

  • Space travel
  • Rocket engineering
  • 20th century scientific advancement

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history and physics at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Third and Fourth Level in Scotland.

More from Icons:

Marie Curie - The person who discovered radium and polonium
Dr Martin Luther King - American Civil Rights leader
Nelson Mandela - Freedom fighter and South Africa's first black president
Helen Keller - The writer who proved her disability was not debilitating