What was the impact of Sputnik on the United States.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sputnik had a profound impact on the United States.  It led Americans to question practically everything about the US system.

When Sputnik was launched, it seemed to indicate to Americans that something had gone wrong with their country.  It seemed to indicate that the US had fallen behind the Soviets.  This led to a great deal of soul searching.  There were concerns over whether the US economic system, its educational system, and its values were sufficient to allow it to compete effectively with the Soviets. 

The launch of Sputnik also had a very practical effect.  It led to an increase in the federal government’s involvement in education.  It led to the passage of the National Defense Education Act of 1958.  This law pushed a great deal of money into the educational system in an attempt to get the US caught up to the Soviets.

In this way, Sputnik caused a crisis of confidence for Americans as well as a concerted effort to improve education so as to catch up to the Russians.