This lesson introduces the students to Alfred Nobel and his legacy, the Nobel Peace Prize. Students will learn about the paradox between intent and purpose as related to Alfred Nobel, review the criteria used to award the Nobel Peace Prize and reflect on how they would like to be remembered in time. They will make the connection between philanthropy and core democratic values.
Three Forty-Five Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
list defining characteristics and actions of Alfred Nobel.
evaluate the purpose and criteria for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.
explain how the common good benefits from philanthropy.
Large reproduction of the Nobel Peace Prize medal on a ribbon
Student copies or a transparency of The Nobel Peace Prize Medal (Attachment One)
A large stick of “dynamite” (a red cylinder with a string coming out one end)
Background Information on Alfred Nobel (Attachment Two)
Index cards with teacher-selected bits of information from Attachment Two
Student copies of Nobel Peace Prize Information (Attachment Three)
Student copies of the excerpt of Alfred Nobel’s Will (Attachment Four)
Former Learning To Give Logo and Description (Attachment Five)
Heavy cardboard/poster board, gold paint, markers, old magazines to cut out pictures
Class Participation Rubric (Attachment Six)
Your Personal Banner Rubric (Attachment Seven)
The teacher will be wearing a replica of the Nobel Peace Prize around the neck or have it visible to the students, and will not explain what it is until later in the lesson.
Have the following items, or similar items, on a table in the front of the room: a toy car, a bottle of drugs, sunglasses, phone, rope. Ask the students what these objects have in common. After answers are given, ask the students if these objects could be potentially harmful. Give the following examples of intent and possible extreme misuses:
(toy) car: transportation or ability to kill
sunglasses: block sun rays or hurt eyes
drugs: heal or hurt
phone: communication or harassment
rope: pull someone out or hang
Explain to students that intention does not always equal the expected outcome. Sometimes the expected use shows an immediate and predictable effect. Sometimes the result is far reaching and not what was expected.
Hold up the stick of “dynamite.” Ask the students why they think this was invented and who they think would invent it. After the class has brainstormed, begin the story of Alfred Nobel by passing out index cards with bits of information about Nobel on each from Background Information on Alfred Nobel (Attachment Two). As each card is read by students, provide periodic reflection to see if the students can identify the person. Once all the cards are read, discuss the defining characteristics and actions of Alfred Nobel. Note that the intention and the results of his invention did not have the expected results, just as the inventions shared during the Anticipatory Set.
Read the Alfred Nobel Will excerpt (Attachment Four). What was established because of his Will? (the Nobel Prizes) The Will (and philanthropy) was how Alfred Nobel attempted to change his image in the world. Evaluate in small groups the criteria for awarding the Peace Prize. Hand out copies of Nobel Peace Prize Information (Attachment Three) and Alfred Nobel’s Will (Attachment Four) to each group. Come back together as a class and list how someone could be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Ask the students to define common good (for the benefit of all), perpetuity (continuing; a legacy lasting far into the future), intent (the expected end result) and philanthropy (sharing with others your time, talent or treasures). Ask students if they know some of the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. If no one knows, have two or three examples of persons they may recognize to discuss (i.e., Jimmy Carter, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr.). Relate and discuss how the terms above apply to these winners, Alfred Nobel and his Will.
Remind students that Nobel wanted to be remembered for his commitment to peace and he is now remembered this way through the award. This is his legacy. His memory has achieved perpetuity.
Ask the students to think about how they would want to be remembered in 100 years. Discuss what the medal for the Peace Prize looks like using The Nobel Peace Prize Medal (Attachment One). What does the medal say about the person who receives it? What does it say about the person who gave it?
Using the former Learning To Give Logo and Description (Attachment Five) as an example, show and explain the symbolism in the original Learning To Give logo.
Tell the learners that they are to design their own personal banner or logo. Students are to select a quality, a cause or an action related to peace and the common good that they value (examples: kindness, equality, Red Cross). Students are then to design and create a personal banner, showing their belief in the quality, action or cause relating it to peace and the common good. If someone were to find your banner in 100 years, what would it say about you?
List on the board what is required, explain the relevance (relationship to the common good), legacy, and the selected quality, cause or action you believe in, and give a specific due date for the assignment.
Students are to ask an adult how they want to be remembered in 100 years.
Lesson Developed By:Marguerite Stephens
According to the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation, given by the King in Council on June 29, 1900, “the prize-awarding bodies shall present to each prize-winner an assignment for the amount of the prize, a diploma and a gold medal bearing the image of the testator and an appropriate inscription.”
The Nobel medals have had the same design since 1902. On December 10, the Peace Prize, i.e. diploma and medal, is presented in Oslo by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of the King of Norway. The face on the medal of the Norwegian Nobel Committee shows Alfred Nobel in a pose slightly different from that of the other medals. The inscription is the same. The other side of the Peace Medal represents a group of three men forming a fraternal bond. The inscription reads: “Pro pace et fraternitate gentium” translated “For the peace and brotherhood of men.”
Prix Nobel de la Paix, the relevant year and the name of the Laureate are engraved on the edge of the medal. It was designed by Gustav Vigeland.
Alfred’s mother, Andrietta Ahlsell, came from a wealthy family. Due to misfortunes in the construction work caused by the loss of some barges of building material, Immanuel Nobel was forced into bankruptcy the same year Alfred Nobel was born. In 1837, Immanuel Nobel left Stockholm and his family to start a new career in Finland and in Russia. To support the family, Andrietta Nobel started a grocery store which provided a modest income.
Meanwhile, Immanuel Nobel was successful in his new enterprise in St. Petersburg, Russia. He started a mechanical workshop that provided equipment for the Russian army and he also convinced the Tsar and his generals that naval mines could be used to block enemy naval ships from threatening the city. The naval mines designed by Immanuel Nobel were simple devices consisting of submerged wooden casks filled with gun powder. Anchored below the surface of the Gulf of Finland, they effectively deterred the British Royal Navy from moving into firing range of St. Petersburg during the Crimean war (1853-1856). Immanuel Nobel was also a pioneer in arms manufacture and in designing steam engines.
Successful in his industrial and business ventures, Immanuel Nobel was able, in 1842, to bring his family to St. Petersburg. There, his sons were given a first class education by private teachers. The training included natural sciences, languages and literature. By the age of 17, Alfred Nobel was fluent in Swedish, Russian, French, English and German. His primary interests were in English literature and poetry as well as in chemistry and physics. Alfred’s father, who wanted his sons to join his enterprise as engineers, disliked Alfred’s interest in poetry and found his son rather introverted. In order to widen Alfred’s horizons his father sent him abroad for further training in chemical engineering.
In Paris he met the young Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero who, three years earlier, had invented nitroglycerine, a highly explosive liquid. Nitroglycerine was produced by mixing glycerine with sulphuric and nitric acid. It was considered too dangerous to be of any practical use. Although its explosive power greatly exceeded that of gun powder, the liquid would explode in a very unpredictable manner if subjected to heat and pressure. Alfred Nobel became very interested in nitroglycerine and how it could be put to practical use in construction work. He also realized that the safety problems had to be solved and a method had to be developed for the controlled detonation of nitroglycerine.
In 1852 Alfred Nobel was asked to come back and work in the family enterprise which was booming because of its deliveries to the Russian army. Together with his father, he performed experiments to develop nitroglycerine as a commercially and technically useful explosive. As the war ended and conditions changed, Immanuel Nobel was again forced into bankruptcy. Immanuel and two of his sons, Alfred and Emil, left St. Petersburg together and returned to Stockholm. His other two sons, Robert and Ludvig, remained in St. Petersburg. With some difficulties they managed to salvage the family enterprise and then went on to develop the oil industry in the southern part of the Russian empire. They were very successful and became some of the wealthiest persons of their time.
After his return to Sweden in 1863, Alfred Nobel concentrated on developing nitroglycerine as an explosive. Several explosions, including one (1864) in which his brother Emil and several other persons were killed, convinced the authorities that nitroglycerine production was exceedingly dangerous. They forbade further experimentation with nitroglycerine within the Stockholm city limits and Alfred Nobel had to move his experimentation to a barge anchored on Lake Mälaren. Alfred was not discouraged and in 1864 he was able to start mass production of nitroglycerine.
To make the handling of nitroglycerine safer, Alfred Nobel experimented with different additives. He soon found that mixing nitroglycerine with silica would turn the liquid into a paste that could be shaped into rods of a size and form suitable for insertion into drilling holes. In 1867, he patented this material under the name of dynamite. To be able to detonate the dynamite rods he also invented a detonator (blasting cap) which could be ignited by lighting a fuse. These inventions were made at the same time as the diamond drilling crown, and the pneumatic drill came into general use. Together these inventions drastically reduced the cost of blasting rock, drilling tunnels, building canals and many other forms of construction work.
The market for dynamite and detonating caps grew very rapidly and Alfred Nobel also proved himself to be a very skillful entrepreneur and businessman. Over the years he founded factories and laboratories in some 90 different places in more than 20 countries. Although he lived in
Paris much of his life, he was constantly traveling. He focused on the development of explosives technology as well as other chemical inventions, including such materials as synthetic rubber, leather and silk. By the time of his death in 1896 he had 355 patents.
Alfred Nobel’s greatness lay in his ability to combine the penetrating mind of the scientist and inventor with the forward-looking dynamism of the industrialist. Nobel was very interested in social and peace-related issues and held what were considered radical views in his era. He had a great interest in literature and wrote his own poetry and dramatic works. The Nobel Prizes became an extension and a fulfillment of his lifetime interests.
Peace is one of the five prize areas mentioned in Alfred Nobel’s will. The will was, however, partly incomplete. Nobel simply stated that prizes be given to those who, during the preceding year, “shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind” and that one part be given to the person who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Why a Norwegian Nobel Committee
Alfred Nobel himself never told anybody why he didn’t give a Swedish body the task of awarding the Peace Prize. Consequently, we can only speculate what, in 1895, made the cosmopolitan Swede decide to give the task of selecting the peace prize committee to the Norwegian Parliament. There have been a number of suggestions: Nobel admired Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, the Norwegian patriot and leading author; the Storting was the first national legislature to vote support for the international peace movement; Nobel may have wanted to distribute the tasks related to the Nobel Prizes within the Swedish-Norwegian union. Nobel may also have feared that the highly political nature of the Peace Prize would make it a tool in power politics and thereby reduce its significance as an instrument for peace. A prize committee selected by a rather progressive parliament from a small nation on the periphery of Europe, without its own foreign policy and with only a very distant past as autonomous military power, may perhaps have been expected to be more innocent in matters of power politics than would a committee from the most powerful of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden. In his will Nobel wrote: “It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.” During the 20th century eight Scandinavians have become Peace Prize laureates. There have been five Swedes and one Dane; only two Norwegian nationals. The geographical distribution of laureates would appear to reveal little or no Norwegian or Scandinavian chauvinism; on this point the Norwegian Nobel Committee may be said to have observed the provisions in Nobel’s will.
In accordance with Alfred Nobel’s will, the Peace Prize is awarded by a committee of five, appointed by the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament), but without the committee being formally responsible to the Storting.
To decide who has done the most to promote peace is a highly political matter, and scarcely a matter of cool scholarly judgment. The task requires an ability and a will to view conflicts in the world community as objectively as possible while keeping a strong commitment to certain common moral and political principles.
How is a person or institution nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize?
Any one of the following persons is entitled to submit proposals:
members of national assemblies and governments;
members of international courts of law;
university chancellors; university professors of social science, history, philosophy, law and theology;
leaders of peace research institutes and institutes of foreign affairs;
former Nobel Peace Prize laureates;
board members of organizations that have received the Nobel Peace Prize;
present and past members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee; (committee members must present their nomination at the latest at the first committee meeting after February 1);
former advisers at the Norwegian Nobel Institute.
Observing the rules given in the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, the Committee does not publish the names of candidates.
The Nobel Peace Prize may also be accorded to institutions or associations.
The nominators are strongly requested not to publish their proposals. Proposals should be sent to:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee
“The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. The prizes for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical works by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the Academy in Stockholm; and that for champions of peace by a committee of five persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting.
It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not.”
Paris, the 27th of November 1895.
Alfred Bernhard Nobel
Looking back and taking the best from the past
Looking forward to the future
An action of the heart (heart in hand)
A project for the mind (coming out of the mind)
Handing off the tradition of citizen engagement to the next generation
(student in the hand of the future)
Student Name ____________________________________
Never is publicly critical of the project or the work of others. Always has a positive attitude about the task(s).
Rarely is publicly critical of the project or the work of others. Often has a positive attitude about the task(s).
Occasionally is publicly critical of the project or the work of other members of the group. Usually has a positive attitude about the task(s).
Often is publicly critical of the project or the work of other members of the group. Often has a positive attitude about the task(s).
Routinely provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A definite leader who contributes a lot of effort.
Usually provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A strong group member who tries hard!
Sometimes provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. A satisfactory group member who does what is required.
Rarely provides useful ideas when participating in the group and in classroom discussion. May refuse to participate.
Consistently stays focused on the task and what needs to be done. Very self-directed.
Focuses on the task and what needs to be done most of the time. Other group members can count on this person.
Focuses on the task and what needs to be done some of the time. Other group members must sometimes nag, prod and remind to keep this person on-task.
Rarely focuses on the task and what needs to be done. Lets others do the work.
Use of Class Time
Used time well during each class period. Focused on getting the project done. Never distracted others.
Used time well during each class period. Usually focused on getting the project done and never distracted others.
Used some of the time well during each class period. There was some focus on getting the project done but occasionally distracted others.
Did not use class time to focus on the project OR often distracted others.
The poster includes all required elements as well as additional information.
All required elements are included on the poster.
All but one of the required elements are included on the poster.
Several required elements were missing.
Graphics – Relevance
All graphics are related to the topic and make it easier to understand. All borrowed graphics have a source citation.
All graphics are related to the topic and most make it easier to understand. All borrowed graphics have a source citation.
All graphics relate to the topic. Most borrowed graphics have a source citation.
Graphics do not relate to the topic OR several borrowed graphics do not have a source citation.
Student can accurately answer all questions related to facts in the poster and processes used to create the poster.
Student can accurately answer most questions related to facts in the poster and processes used to create the poster.
Student can accurately answer about 75% of questions related to facts in the poster and processes used to create the poster.
Student appears to have insufficient knowledge about the facts or processes used in the poster.
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