Tower Cranes

So, I passed a building site for Crossrail in London and I started puzzling about tower cranes. I looked around me in London and there are SO many cranes – often building huge skyscrapers. How did they even get the cranes into place on the building sites?

This is a tower crane and here are the questions I have about tower cranes in particular:

Image from

Image from

  • What’s their purpose?
  • Where are they used?
  • Why don’t they fall over?
  • How much weight can they lift?
  • What couldn’t we do without them?
  • How do they work? (takes you to a web site which may contain unsuitable links, be warned – “Think before you click”)
  • How do they get on site?
  • Who controls them? where from?
  • How were tall building built before cranes? What are the alternatives? What’s the benefit of  a crane?
  • What other types of cranes are there? Next time you are out & about, why not look out for different types of cranes and take some photos for this blog?
  • Which birds/ animals look or move like a crane? Why? How do they get food?

PS If you are interested in Crossrail and how they made the tunnels under London you can watch the BBC documentaries here – it’s fascinating!

Can you:

In school, we will be using Phil Bagge’s Human Crane activities to start thinking like a computer-controlled crane! We will develop practical algorithms and look for patterns that can be turned into procedures and repeat instructions. We will then develop these ideas using a Logo program.

Can you program a tower crane or a grab machine game? You could just write an algorithm or you could have a go in Scratch 2.0 eg


What do you think these cranes are for? Can you find out more? What questions do you have?

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About nic schofield

I’m a primary schools computing technician, interested in teaching children, their teachers & their parents, about IoT, computational thinking and implications of technology on their lives and encouraging children to think critically about technology to influence change in the world.

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