Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Reach For The Sky
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


  • Balsa wood.
  • Cardboard.
  • Cloth scraps.
  • Foamcore board.
  • Glue.
  • Markers.
  • Paper.
  • Plastic wrap.
  • Popsicle Sticks.
  • Scissors.
  • Staples.
  • Tape.
  • Toothpicks.
  • Wood Scraps.
  • X-acto knife.
Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

-- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
-- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
-- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
-- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

The following sites should be bookmarked:

  • World's Tallest Buildings

    This is an award winning site dedicated to tall buildings. The site has a very clever interface for accessing hyperlinks that simulates an elevator panel in a tall building. The FAQ section provides excellent reference material.

  • The Skyscraper Museum

    This virtual museum gives a comprehensive history of tall buildings. It provides a list of programs run by museums that can be useful for enrichment program planning. A portion of the site is dedicated to New York City skyscraper architecture.

  • The High Rise Site

    This site provides information on most of the high-rises of the world listed by country. It contains very nice graphics, including one pictorial comparison of the heights of the tallest buildings in the world. Its features include: a fabulous listing of U.S. high-rises by cities, and a table of the 30 top skyscrapers in the world today.

  • The Twistscraper

    This site presents an interesting design of a tall building with visual renderings of structure and floor plans. It also contains a description of the design of the building.

  • New York City Skyscrapers

    This site offers a tour of all of the major buildings of New York City.

  • The Empire State Building

    This site provides a virtual field trip to one of the world's most famous skyscrapers, the Empire State Building. The site includes a video camera from the building. It has an extensive section of trivia about the building's architecture, construction, history, and other important facts.

    Time Allotment:
    This technology learning activity requires approximately 10 class periods.

  • Begin a class discussion about the differences among city architecture, suburban, and urban architecture. This could lead into a discussion of the unique type of building structure in cities -- the skyscraper. Pose questions about large cities the students have visited and the tall buildings they have seen. Further discussion could be about buildings being designed in a vertical manner to meet the needs of an increasing population and limited real estate. Use directed questions to initiate research activity such as: What is the tallest building in our hometown? Are there any limitations on the height of a building? What is the tallest building in the world? How many floors are in this tall building? What are the systems in any building? What considerations would there be in designing a skyscraper that are not involved in designing a home?

  • Break students into groups of two. Distribute a copy of the Research Log, in Organizers for Students, to each group of students. Using the bookmarks, have the students examine each site and investigate the relevant information.

  • Have the students refer to Design Brief, in Organizers for Students. Using the material from their research, they should sketch buildings that meet the Design Brief criteria.

  • Upon completion of a suitable drawing, students should begin to build their tall building, using the materials listed in the Design Brief.

  • When the skyscraper model is built, each group should present the building to the class with the relevant information about the construction technology. Group members should be able to identify and analyze all the environmental, social, and cultural impacts of their designs.


    Science: Study the forces acting on the structure and the impact of earthquakes on tall buildings. Examine the impact that environmental/ecological situations have on tall buildings.

    Social Studies: Create a timeline of the history of tall buildings. Study the inventions/inventors that make tall buildings possible, such as Otis's elevator. Discuss the differences in the construction of skyscrapers as it relates to the era they were built in (for example, how the Depression era impacted the building of the Empire State Building in 1930). Compare and contrast different urban areas and the type of construction technology used for skyscrapers there.

    Mathematics: Calculate square footage for floors. Calculate overall surface area of walls. Convert height in feet to height in meters. Calculate the height of a skyscraper given other parameters.

    Visual Arts/Language Arts: Create a marketing theme for a tall building that needs occupants, such as a hotel or a new office.


    Use the software SimCity or SimTower to create a working city or tall building. You can order this software at

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students