Big or Small: Measure It All
Western Reserve Public Media

Big or Small: Measure It All

Western Reserve Public Media’s multimedia package Big or Small: Measure It All was created with a two-fold purpose. First, the videos show students how measurement is used every day in the “real world.” Second, the package offers students “hands-on” lessons that require the use of measurement to accomplish a task. It is directed at grades 4 and 6 and is keyed to mathematics standards for those grades. The package was created by a team of teachers from school districts in our service area.

How to Use This Package
The components of the Big or Small: Measure It All multimedia package are listed below. They include videos, a teacher guide, a virtual Ohio tour and a Web site, all of which have been designed for use as either stand-alone educational tools or as a complete package. It is our hope that teachers will use the components to complement their classroom instruction.

Package Contents
Instructional Videos and Teacher Guide Video Supplements
Five 10-minute videos present information on measuring different types of travel. Related lesson plans for each video also are included.

  1. Air — This episode takes us to Albuquerque to watch the biggest hot air balloon take-off in the United States. Students learn the importance of measuring weight, volume, distance and degrees when trying to launch a balloon.
  2. Balloon Design Challenge — Make a hot air balloon and measure the time it stays in the air and the distance it travels from the starting point.

    Pegasus: A Myth About Flight — Students read the myth about Pegasus and then calculate the amount of food he eats and water he drinks. They will need to do conversions between pounds and ounces and between gallons and quarts.


  3. Land — Visit the Talladega Speedway and see the need for accurately measuring distance, speed and angles when competing in a NASCAR race.
  4. Watch Out, NASCAR — Here Comes Our Car! — Make a balloon-powered car and find the area and perimeter of the car body. Also, measure the distance that the car traveled.

    The Long, Winding Road — Plan a “road trip” and determine a car’s gas mileage.

    I Want a Doughnut! — Determine all the possible routes to get from the start to the bakery to get a doughnut.


  5. Time — Find out a little about the history of time and how accurate time is kept. Learn about elapsed time, hours, minutes and precision.

    Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz — Timing Race — Determine the time difference in using hot and cold water to melt an antacid tablet.

    Think Time! — Compute the elapsed time of an event. This lesson plan includes a PowerPoint presentation.


  6. Sea — Join in on a visit to the Flying Scot Sailboat Company and find out how necessary it is to use accurate measurements (area, weight, latitude and longitude) when trying to sail a boat.
  7. Can Your Boat Float? — Make a boat and find the area of the base. Add pennies until it sinks and create a graph to determine if the area makes a difference in the number of pennies that the boat will hold.

    Sail Away — Determine which sailboat has the greater area of sail.

    What Measure Will You Use? — Students decide if they need to find area, perimeter or volume. This lesson includes a PowerPoint presentation.


  8. Space — Satellites and telescopes look at distances that are difficult for us to measure (large numbers, areas of circles, angles and altitude).

    Lift Off! — Make a toilet-paper model of the solar system. Make a straw-powered rocket, measure the distance the rocket will travel and graph the results.

    How Much Do You Weigh on Other Planets? — Students calculate what their weight would be on other planets.


Ohio Virtual Tour Lesson Plans
This section features an online activity that uses Google Earth to “visit” various sites in Ohio and conduct measurement activities. Additional chapters offer lesson plans related to the Ohio Virtual Tour sites.

  1. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  2. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Measures Up — Present in pictures, words and numbers how to compute the volume of material needed to resurface a runway.

    Measuring the Aircraft at Wright-Patterson — Present in pictures, words and numbers how to compute the volume of a cargo plane.


  3. Farmland
  4. New McDonald’s Farm: Planting the Corn — Determine how much corn could be planted on an acre of field.

    New McDonald’s Farm: Storing the Corn — Find the volume of a silo and determine how much corn it will take to fill it.

    New McDonald’s Farm: Selling the Corn — Use surface area to design a container to sell the cereal that you made from the corn.


  5. The Landfill
  6. The Edible Landfill — Create an edible landfill and compute perimeter.

    Design a Landfill for Your School — Build a sanitary landfill on school grounds and measure area, perimeter and volume.

    Fill It Up: Design a Landfill — Draw the layers of a landfill and calculate the volume of each layer and of the whole landfill.

    Cover It Up and Keep It Green — Put a “cap” on your landfill and determine how many sprinklers you will need to keep it green.


  7. Amusement Park Arcade
  8. The Excellent Estimator — The classroom turns into an amusement park arcade where students find the weight of water squeezed from a sponge, the distance a toy car can travel, the area of a shoe print, the volume of a cube and the time it takes to play a musical clip.

  9. The Ohio State University Football Stadium

    Game Day — Students solve measurement problems related to a home football game at The Ohio State University.


Web Site
The project Web site,, contains all of the topics listed in the teacher guide plus some additions. These include Internet resources, PowerPoint presentations and games. In addition, the videos are available on video on demand so that they can be viewed online.
Copyright©2007, Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.