1. Why were the MPs at the entrance gate to Los Alamos upset with Franklin?
He had created an accurate map to Los Alamos.
1. What was located on the mesa before the lab was created?
The Los Alamos Ranch School.
2. What makes Lonny and Red such bullies? They live in the “poorer” section of Los Alamos…the Quonset huts and trailers where the support staff lived. These homes had no bathrooms, and the residents had to use common facilities (bath houses).
3. Why were the adults in the book opposed to the name “Fritz” for Franklin?
Though the adults didn’t want Franklin to buckle under to peer bullying, the name “Fritz” is a German name, and we were at war with Germany.
4. What shortages were there in Los Alamos during the war?
Among the typical WWII shortages were gas and chocolate. The military tried to keep the lab scientists and their families happy, so many things that were rationed elsewhere were available on the Hill. (Gas, however, was still rationed for the scientists as well.)
5. What were the two war theaters of WWII?
We were fighting on two fronts, the European Theater against Germany and Italy and Pacific Theater against Japan.
1. If you could only travel one hundred miles away from Los Alamos, what places could you go to?
Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, the Jemez, Cuba, etc.
2. How does Manny feel about the army taking over the mesa?
Manny resents that the pristine area he grew up in has been mowed down and government housing has been hurriedly raised. He also expresses resentment toward the “rich kids” who were at the ranch.
1. Who is doing all of the maid work in Los Alamos?
Locals including pueblo people have been hired for labor. This work was much appreciated because jobs were scarce, and the jobs paid well in comparison to other work found off the Hill.
2. What kind of bargain does Fritz strike with Manny?
Fritz will tutor Manny in math in exchange for some guided tours of the Indian ruins of the mesa.
1. What is “the Gadget”?
It’s a nickname for the bomb.
2. Why does Fritz start a Secret Project Notebook?
Fritz has a questioning mind and can’t stand not knowing what is going on behind the fences! His mind works like that of his scientist father and the other men and women working on the project. His curiosity is a driving force.
3. Why can’t the residents of the Hill talk to people in Santa Fe?
It would be easy to give secrets away without even knowing.
4. Why did Hawkins get hauled out of Los Alamos?
He gave away secrets.
5. How did the Los Alamos security know when people were divulging secrets?
They had FBI working undercover in Santa Fe.
6. Create a chart with occupations and badge colors:
1. What are the reasons Kathy gives for hating life on the Hill?
No bathtubs, no telephones, no sidewalks, dust everywhere, and too many rules.
2. What things did censors take out of letters?
References to dust (gives away location)
3. What hints about the town secret did Kathy give to Fritz?
She said she knew her dad was working on something to help beat the Germans and win the war.
1. What is a “feast day”?
A celebration of the Native Americans which includes inviting everyone to feast and watch the dances, usually in celebration of harvest or planting.
2. What has the security division hidden in people’s apartments, and why?
Microphones in some places to eavesdrop on personal conversations. They wanted to make sure husbands weren’t revealing secret information to their wives.
3. Why is Fritz carrying his knapsack everywhere?
He is afraid security might find his secret project notebook. (If they’ve been in to stick microphones around, who knows what else they might do?)
4. What is a knapsack and why does wearing one point Fritz out as different?
A backpack…no one wore them back then unless they were going hiking.
1. What happened to Jewish children in Germany during WWII?
Friends stopped speaking to them, their parents lost their jobs, their rights were restricted, they had to leave the country….those who stayed were forced into hiding. Many were sent to concentration camps where they were forced into hard labor or killed.
2. What spy trick did Fritz use to eavesdrop on his father and his fellow scientists?
He listened through a glass pressed to the wall.
3. What method did Fritz use to get his little neighbor Timmy to stop hounding him about having a girlfriend?
Reverse psychology….he implied that Timmy was too young to understand that boys and girls could be friends without being girlfriend/boyfriend.
1. Why are Lonny and Red perpetually bullying Fritz? What do they have against him?
He is smart, and that threatens them.
2. What do Lonny and Red tell Fritz he must do?
Lonny’s math homework.
1. Why won’t Fritz do Lonny’s math work for him?
He knows it’s the wrong thing to do, and though he is afraid, he is standing up for his beliefs.
2. What new kid does Fritz meet in chapter ten?
Jacob, who had to leave Germany because he is Jewish.
3. What comparison does Fritz make to Kathy when she suggests that he go ahead and do Lonny’s math so he will not get beaten up?
Fritz compares it to not standing up against Hitler who was taking over one country after another in Europe.
4. What does Fritz’s mother want to do once he tells her about Lonny?
She wants to go down to the school and straighten things out.
1. Who comes to Fritz’s defense when Lonny and Red are beating him up?
2. Why is Jacob so angry?
Watching two kids gang up on another with no one coming to his assistance is similar to the bullying Hitler was doing to the Jews in Germany. The Swartzs had “the painful discovery that their countrymen would stand by and allow their fellow citizens to be persecuted.”
3. What is the rumbling noise that the students hear outside of their classroom?
“A noise so loud it rattles the classroom windows and builds to a roar.” It is the sound of explosives being tested at the lab.
4. Why is Kathy crying after the explosion?
Her dad works in ordnance and she is worried that he may be injured.
1. What does Manny show Fritz on the horseback ride?
Indian rock art and birds.
2. What advice does Fritz give to Manny on composition writing?
Write about what you know.
3. What does Manny write his composition about?
Life on the mesa before the government built the base.
4. What does Kathy write her paper about?
The German Madame Curie (Lisa Meitner)
1. What does Fritz discover in chapter thirteen?
His dad’s depression and other clues lead him to surmise that the scientists are working hard to meet a deadline.
1. Who are the “longhairs”?
The lab scientists.
2. What happens to Fritz on the ice?
Lonny knocks into him, and he cracks his head.
1. Why did Jacob run out of the school?
Kathy had written a story about the Jews who had been liberated from a concentration camp. It was too close to home for Jacob who probably had friends and family who may have ended up in a concentration camp.
2. Why is Jacob called the Human Tornado?
He was called the Human Tornado because he fought like a whirlwind when he took on Lonny and Red. He becomes very emotional over issues concerning the European front because it was his home.
1. What pronunciation mistake does Fritz make when he is talking to Manny, and why is Manny so amused by it?
Fritz pronounces the word Jemez as if it is a French word, “Zhemmay,” when it is a Spanish word pronounced “Haymez.” It is a funny mistake to Manny because Fritz is so very bright and was stumped trying to find “Haymez” on the map.
2. Why does Jacob rush out of the library?
He was writing his composition on the bombing of Dresden, and he became emotional. His family was from Dresden. He had always heard how beautiful it was and had hoped to visit it someday, but it had been destroyed.
1. Where is Fritz’s dad?
He is “away for a few days and it has something to do with work.”
2. What clues does Fritz pick up from Gail about where their fathers have been?
They are gone out of town, and they are working outdoors, because her father returns sunburned.
3. What are the Loose Lips Sink Ships posters?
The U.S. government published many posters during WWII advising citizens to keep war information secret in case of spies. If you blabbed information that was useful to the enemy (had loose lips) you might be indirectly responsible for revealing the location of troops or ships (sink ships). This was particularly important in Los Alamos where they were creating a super weapon.
4. What is the Bathtub Row?
There were a few houses close to the original Ranch School that contained tubs. All of the government housing just had showers (if they had bathing facilities at all.)
5. What is Fritz’s plan for discovering where the scientists are going?
Fritz decides to check the odometers on the cars when the scientists leave town and again when they return.
1. Why did they close the lab?
President Roosevelt died.
2. Why was Roosevelt not Jacob’s dad’s favorite person?
He felt Roosevelt could have done more to help the Jews in Europe. (The U.S. even turned away some refugee ships.)
1. What happens to Fritz when he goes horseback riding in the canyon?
Lonny and Red throw rocks at him.
2. What is the difference between the Quonset hut Manny lives in and the one Lonny lives in?
Manny’s is spotless and cared for, Lonny’s is unkempt.
3. What clue does Manny unintentionally give to Fritz about the secret project?
Not just scientists are going off of the hill; carpenters and other workers are going, too.
1. What happens when Fritz sneaks out to record his dad’s car’s mileage?
His dad catches him and forces him to tell him what he is doing.
2. Why is his father so angry?
He doesn’t want his son to jeopardize the secret project.
1. Who dies in chapter 21?
2. Why did Fritz’s family feast?
Because the German’s surrendered (VE day).
3. What makes Kathy cry?
She was criticized for saying she was happier about her brother’s safety than VE day.
1. What have Kathy and Gail been up to?
Writing love letters to see if they will get past the censors.
2. What does Fritz talk them into doing?
Writing a letter to the censors complaining about being censored.
3. What does it mean by “Kathy’s brother is being deployed?"
He is being sent to the Pacific Theater
1. What is a kamikaze attack?
A Japanese fighter pilot who uses his plane as a weapon and flies directly into a battleship, committing suicide as he does so.
2. At the PX the four friends discuss the fighting spirit of the Japanese. What points do they make?
The Japanese citizens will fight to the bitter end, even with pikes and spears. They will never be taken; they will kill themselves and their families before they can be taken prisoner.
3. Why do Fritz and Kathy think the ambulances are being escorted into the lab?
Something top secret being smuggled into the lab in the ambulances.
1. Why does Fritz quit carrying around his Secret Project Notebook?
He is discouraged by the lack of information he is getting from watching the ambulances and believes he will never really figure our what is happening at the lab.
1. What trouble does Fritz get into in chapter 25?
He mails a letter for Kathy and Gail that indicates what is going on in Los Alamos.
2. What happens when Kathy confesses to writing the letter?
She gets admonished by the military police.
1. What trouble does Fritz get into in chapter 26?
While riding horses, Manny and Fritz wander into a new secured area with a guard tower.
2. What does the MP mean by “the likes of them” when he talks about Manny?
He is denigrating the Hispanics who live or work on the hill.
3. What happens to Fritz once he gets back home?
The MPs take him off for questioning. The military police have whole files on Franklin and tell him to stay out of trouble.
4. What is an egghead?
Slang for a very smart person, in this case the scientists.
1. Why were all of the people up on the ski hill in the middle of the night?
They were waiting to see the test explosion from the Trinity site.
2. What do Fritz, his mom, Kathy, her mom and the others at Sawyer’s Hill see?
The whole sky lights up as if it were daytime.
3. What does Fritz think that it means?
He believes “the gadget” has been a success and that the war will be over before the American GIs have to invade Japan.
4. What did Jacob say his father was worried about?
He was worried about the earth’s atmosphere igniting.
1. What two famous scientists do Jacob and Fritz discuss?
Niels Bohr and Enrico Fermi, both Nobel Prize winners.
1. What is the important headline on the paper that Fritz buys at the PX?
U.S. drops atomic bomb on Japan.
2. Why is Fritz’s dad feeling “low”?
He worries about the potential for disaster the bomb brings to the world. Some scientists wanted to stay in Los Alamos and make sure that atomic energy would be used in positive ways.
3. How does Fritz finally resolve his issues with Lonny and Red?
He sticks up for Kathy and holds his own with a tough-guy act.
1. What does Jacob’s father fear will happen now that scientists have created the atom bomb?
An arms race and the dangers of radioactivity.
2. When the MP’s pull up in their Jeep, what to they tell Fritz and Jacob?
Japan has surrendered.
1. Where had Jacob’s father gone when he disappeared for three weeks?
To the island of Tinian to help assemble the bombs.
2. What does the kindly MP at the gate do for Fritz?
Allows him to keep his badge as a souvenir.
Return to: The Study Guide for The Secret Project Notebook.