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Chunnel Cross-Section

Dig into this construction project in a big way! Learning about the English Channel Tunnel cuts across multiple curriculum areas.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. A 31 mile-long tunnel sitting in a large cavern located 150 feet under the English Channel? Sounds like science fiction. The English Channel Tunnel is authentic, however, and carries people, cars, buses, and freight on high-speed trains between Folkestone, England, and Calais, France.
    2. Students research the English Channel Tunnel (called the Chunnel or Euro Tunnel) to learn more about how it was designed and constructed. Why were so many resources put into building the Chunnel? How has it affected trade and travel between England and continental Europe?
    3. Students find cross-section pictures of the Chunnel an use them as a guide to build a replica. Here's one way to construct a cross-section of this magnificent engineering feat. Students use their imagination to make an accurate replica of the Chunnel and the transportation routes within it.
    4. Hold a shoebox bottom lengthwise. Ask an adult to help you cut two opposite sides with Crayola® Scissors so a piece will lift up to form the sky.
    5. Cover the art area with recycled newspaper. Paint the inside of the box with Crayola Tempera and Brushes. Make descending layers of blue for sky, another shade of blue for water, and brown for the ground under the English Channel. Air dry.
    6. With adult assistance, cut a cardboard tube in half with scissors. This will form the cross section of the tunnel. Trim off the top and glue the two pieces together with Crayola School Glue so they are as wide as the box. The inside (concave) of the tube faces out. Air dry.
    7. On white construction paper, draw the locomotive and the double-decker carrier wagon of Le Shuttle train with Crayola Colored Pencils. Or make a sleek Eurostar train for passengers. Color the trains with Crayola® Markers. Glue the train into the Chunnel.
    8. Find pictures of the flags of France and the United Kingdom. Draw and color them. Glue them to toothpicks. Air dry. Attach flags to the correct sides of the Chunnel.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization and analysis of content.

    LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SCI: Formulate a question that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, school laboratory, or field with available resources and frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.

    SCI: Construct original explanations of phenomena using knowledge of accepted scientific theory and linking it to models and evidence.

    SS: Give examples of conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and nations.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Identify and describe examples in which science and technology have let to changes in the physical environment.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

  • Adaptations

    To broaden their understanding of the European continent, have teams of students construct a map of Europe and its waterways. Investigate modes of transportation that are commonly used in Europe for travel. Pose these questions for further discussion: 1) What arguments were made, for and against, regarding the construction of this tunnel? 2) Does the existence of the Chunnel encourage economic growth in Europe and, if so, how?

    Students investigate other well-known tunnels around the world. Compare and contrast the building of these tunnels and the Chunnel. What challenges did the engineers face during the planning and construction phases? What equipment was used for the tunnel construction? How is the air kept fresh in the tunnel? What safety precautions are essential during tunnel operations? (Suggestions: The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel; Boston's Central Artery)


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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