Atomic Bomb Lesson for Kids: Facts & Definition

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Learn about atomic bombs, including what they are and how they can make such enormous explosions. This lesson also covers the different types of atomic bombs and how they work.

What Is an Atomic Bomb?

Can you imagine how much energy you use in your house every year? Think of everything you use to power the lights, fridge, and computer - anything you plug in uses energy. Over a whole year, that adds up to quite a lot!

Now imagine 1,600 times that amount of energy, all packed into one explosion. That was the energy of the first atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. The newest atomic bombs are even more powerful. Let's find out how they work.

How Do Atomic Bombs Work?

To understand what an atomic bomb is, you need to understand what an atom is. An atom is a very tiny piece of stuff; they're so small you can't even see them with a microscope.

An atom: the clump in the center is the nucleus.

Each atom contains even tinier particles. In the middle of the atom, there's a clump of particles called the nucleus. The nucleus is held together by a very strong force. An atomic bomb gets its power either by breaking up the nucleus of an atom or by forcing the nuclei of two different atoms to combine.

When a nucleus breaks apart or two nuclei come together, energy is released and the bomb explodes. That's why atomic bombs are also called 'nuclear' bombs, because they're all about the nucleus.

Types of Atoms in Atomic Bombs

Only a few kinds of atoms will release neutrons when they split apart, so only a few kinds of atoms can be used in atomic bombs. Most bombs use plutonium-239 atoms or uranium-235 atoms.


What Are the Types of Atomic Bombs?

There are two main types of atomic bombs: fission bombs and fusion bombs.

Fission Bombs

In a fission bomb, the nucleus of the atom is split apart to make the explosion.

To set off the bomb, a single particle, called a neutron, is shot into the nucleus of an atom. This splits the nucleus apart. Splitting the nucleus releases a lot of energy, and it also releases three more neutrons.

Those neutrons start bouncing around and banging into other nuclei. That splits those nuclei apart, so they release a bunch more energy and even more neutrons. Eventually, all the nuclei in the whole bomb get split apart, and the bomb releases a huge amount of energy.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account