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Explosion Shelter Activity

Materials: Paper and writing utensil

This is a stimulated problem solving exercise. It raises a host of values and issues in which the student must
attempt to work through in a rational manner. This exercise is often a very dramatic example of how our values
differ and how we often have trouble listening to people whose beliefs are different from our own.


You are members of a department in ArcelorMittal. Suddenly a big explosion breaks out. All the factory
and almost all the world are being destroyed. People are heading for whatever fallout shelters are available.
Your group receives a desperate call from one of your experimental stations, asking for help. It seems there are
ten people that have shown up at this particular fallout shelter. There is only enough space, air, food, and
water for six people for a period of three months – which is how long they estimate they can safely stay down
there. They realize that if they have to decide among themselves which six should stay in the shelter, they are
likely to become irrational and begin fighting. So they have decided to call your department, and leave the
decision to you. They will abide by your decision. But each of you have to quickly get ready to go down to your
own fallout shelter. So all you have time for is to get superficial descriptions of the ten people. Then you’ll have
to go down to your own shelter. Before you begin, I want to impress upon you one important consideration. It
is entirely possible that the six people you choose to stay in the shelter might be the only six people left to
start the human race over again.

1. A 16 year old white girl with a questionable I.Q.; high school dropout; pregnant
2. Policeman with a gun; thrown off the force for police brutality
3. A clergyman; 79 years old
4. A 36 year old female physician; known to be a confirmed racist
5. A 46 year old female singer; served 7 years for pushing narcotics; has been out of jail for 3 months
6. A 20 year old black male militant; second year med student
7. A 15 year old Hispanic boy; honors student
8. A male architect; homosexual
9. A 26 year old male law student
10. The law student’s 25 year old wife; spent the last nine months in a mental hospital; still heavily
sedated; they refuse to be separated.
11. A member of a department in ArcelorMittal.