C&O Canal Around the Bends: A Case Study of the Paw Paw Tunnel (5th Grade, near Paw Paw, West Virginia)
On their hike, students compare and contrast the various options that engineers considered when constructing the C&O Canal through the Paw Paw bends. Students form an opinion on whether or not it was worth the costs. At the end of the activity, students should be able to…
- Calculate, compare and convert distances,
- Support an opinion about the cost efficiency of building the tunnel,
- Describe a day in the life of an immigrant worker at the tunnel.
The park partnered with Allegany County Public Schools to develop this field trip along with pre- and post-visit activities for your classroom. Completing the classroom activities will enhance student learning. The lessons include watching a short video about the tunnel (link below).
Please pre-group and assign these jobs to your students before the day of the trip. Students will work in groups of 5. Each student in the group will be responsible for a separate job:
- math calculations and recording (writing the group data down on the provided worksheet)
Field Trip Itinerary
On their hike, students compare and contrast the various options that engineers considered when constructing the C&O Canal through the Paw Paw bends. Students form an opinion on whether or not it was worth the costs.
Welcome (25 minutes)
Ranger will greet students at the campground amphitheater (adjacent to the parking lot), review safety rules and canal vocabulary.
Tunnel Hike (150 minutes)
Students will take a 4 mile hike with a ranger: over the tunnel on Tunnel Hill Trail and through the tunnel itself. Along the way, we will stop and talk about the tunnel's social, economic, and cultural history. Students should bring a flashlight to navigate the tunnel and see the unique cultural and natural objects in the tunnel. The students will collect data, participate in an Eye Spy activity, and hold a Reader's Theater at the site of the tunnel builder's settlement. Lunch will be along the trail. Upon returning to the campground area, students will take a restroom break before doing the wrap up activity.
Wrap Up (15 minutes)
Students will summarize their experience, sharing their data collection and drawing conclusions on the dilemmas that plagued the canal and tunnel workers. Students will be given an index card to record their favorite part of the field trip and the most surprising thing they learned.
These pre-visit classroom activities introduce students to the tunnel.
- Option A (Recommended): Paw Paw Tunnel Video. Students will watch a three-minute video describing history of the Paw Paw Tunnel including problems with construction, challenges with the environment and turmoil among canal workers. Give the students a copy of the video guide to help them take notes. Then discuss the answers.
- Option B (Required) Assign Field Trip Roles: Please pre-group and assign these jobs to your students before the day of the trip. Students will work in groups. Each student in the group will be responsible for a separate job: GPS (trip computer), mapping, math calculations and recording (writing the group data down on the provided worksheet), and pictures/video. The whole class will take the hike together, but students are responsible for their job within their group.
Use one or more of these STEM lessons as a post-visit activity.
- Option A Writing Opinion Piece: Students describe whether or not it was worth the cost of construction to build the Paw Paw Tunnel. Use the To Build or Not to Build Case Study as a preamble. Opinion writing will also be used for STEM iMovie Activity, see below.
- Option B STEM iMovie Activity:Utilizing the footage captured during the field trip, students create an iMovie of the Paw Paw Tunnel and surrounding location. Students narrate the video by reading their opinion piece (Option A), describing the costs of construction and supporting their argument regarding whether or not it was worth building the Paw Paw Tunnel.
Print the Plan Your Visit Guide for more information. To schedule a field trip, email us.
- Engineering, History, Physical Fitness, Science and Technology, Transportation
- National/State Standards:
- Field Trips