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BUILDING BIG
Bridges
Domes
Skyscrapers
Dams
Tunnels
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The Educators Guide
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Program Descriptions
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  Activity: Meeting in the Middle
Activities Index | Handout | Educator Ideas  

Time
15 minutes

Materials
(per group of two)
• large piece of corrugated cardboard or foam-core board
• 2 books or blocks
• 2 ballpoint pens
• paper
• ruler

Video Connection
After the activity, show "Hoosac Tunnel" or "The Chunnel" from Tunnels to emphasize the importance of measurement and communication to tunnel building. (Check the Program Descriptions to locate these show segments.)

Try the Tunnel Challenge.

For more information, see Additional Resources.

Icebreaker
Play a game of "Hot and Cold" to have kids locate an object in the room. Use the game as a starting point for a discussion about the best ways of communicating information and directions, including giving specific measurements.

Lead the Activity
• Kids may ask questions about what they are "supposed to" do in describing the location of their tunnel. Remind them that the goal is to enable their partners to draw a matching tunnel entrance (size and location) on the other side of the cardboard, and part of the challenge is to choose a way of communicating that information as completely as possible. 
• Encourage kids to consider different ways of communicating the locations of their tunnel entrances using the materials they have.

The Big Idea
One challenge of tunnel engineering is making precise measurements to ensure that teams building from each end of the tunnel come together in the middle. This activity shows students the importance of choosing which measurements to make and communicating them accurately. Kids may measure points on the circle from different sides of the cardboard, or divide the cardboard into imaginary fractions.

Photo of David Macaulay demonstrating surveyng equipment in Hoosac Tunnel from the Tunnels broadcast.
David Macaulay demonstrates surveying equipent in 'Hoosac Tunnel' from Tunnels.
Build on It
Provide simple building materials, such as drinking straws and paper clips or toothpicks and gumdrops, for kids to use for their designs.

Make Connections
Language Arts Have kids write instructions for a simple task, such as making a peanut-butter sandwich or putting on a jacket. Remind them to use specific language and descriptive nouns, prepositions, and adjectives. Then have them trade instructions and carry them out to the letter to see what details are missing.
 

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