The “Eighth Wonder of the World”

The “Eighth Wonder of the World”

This educator idea aims to help students understand the environmental impact and modification of the environment involved in constructing the Brooklyn Bridge.


5 - 8


Engineering, Social Studies, U.S. History

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Morgan Stanley

Idea for Use in the Classroom

Ask students what they think of when they see a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge. Tell students that the Brooklyn Bridge was considered to be one of the great wonders of the world when it first opened. Explain that the bridge was built to modify the environment and allow for the crossing of the East River during the winter.

Direct students to the infographic and ask: What would be the biggest challenge facing builders of the bridge?

Review with students the process using the caissons. How does this process modify the environment? How might that process disrupt the ecosystem of the river?

Then review the boxes discussing human activity across the bridge. Ask: What would be the impact of the increased transportation and human activity going back and forth across the bridge?

Break students into small groups, assigning each group a topic about the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. (These could include the reasons for building the bridge, a more detailed look at the construction, the life of the sandhogs, the danger of working in the caissons and getting the “bends,” or the Roebling family.) Have students share their findings with the class, perhaps modeling how a suspension bridge solves problems that another kind of bridge (arch, beam, or truss) would not be able to solve.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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