This is a HUGE database of high quality biographical information on famous historical and current people. Good for all the "people" in this assignment. You need an Alameda County Library Card number to access this resource.
This National Archives site has a good overview of what McCarthyism was as well as a primary source telegram that McCarthy sent to President Truman in 1950 about the government "harboring a nest of Communists and Communist sympathizers."
Some very interesting primary source photographs of bomb drills, etc. in school in the 1950s. The 1950s photos are interspersed with current photos, so make sure you check the captions to make sure what it is. From NPR.
From USA Today, another article about how the Space Race increased funding and emphasis on science and math education:
"It's tempting to believe that before Sputnik, the USA's math and science education system was moribund, but historians disagree. U.S. scientists and engineers had helped win World War II, after all, and plans for better coursework already were in place in 1957. But they got a much-needed push.
At the time, many Americans feared that federal funding could lead to federal control. But in 1957, educators quickly seized on the launch and pushed for more government money.
'They saw Sputnik as an opportunity to bang the drum.'"
From the website of a teachers' union, a perspective on the role of unions in protecting teachers from being accused of being Communists during McCarthyism. Keep in mind that it's from a perspective of one side of the debate (it's a union site, so they believe unions were helpful/necessary during this time).