Trip to Brooklyn Bridge Supplements Second Grade Study of Suspension Bridges

Second grade boys, accompanied by teachers Rachel Gerber and Jackie Pellenberg, associate teacher Hallie Fischberg, and parent chaperones, took a bus to the Brooklyn Bridge on October 2. With the East River below, the group walked across the pedestrian promenade of this iconic feature of the New York City skyline. A link between the two boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge, which serves approximately 150,000 vehicles and pedestrians every day, was the longest steel suspension bridge of its day when it opened in 1883.

Every year, Browning’s second grade class pays a visit to the bridge, learning about it beforehand as part of their year-long study of all the city’s boroughs. Just recently, Ms. Gerber educated the boys on the history of the bridge, including its creator, John Augustus Roebling, and the fact that his son, Washington A. Roebling, took over as chief engineer upon his father’s death. (In 1869, just before construction began, J.A. Roebling was injured while taking some compass readings across the East River and died of tetanus three weeks later. Washington's wife, Emily, assisted her husband to see the bridge completed.)

Thanks to a stipend from the Parents Association, Ms. Gerber traveled to San Francisco this past summer to study the Golden Gate Bridge (Read related story here). Because of that opportunity, she was able to share what she learned with the boys. She noted, “I asked them to compare and contrast the Brooklyn Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge as part of this social studies lesson. They learned, for instance, that both are suspension bridges; each one spans more than 4,000 feet.”

The boys carried clipboards with them to record what they saw during their crossing of the Brooklyn Bridge.  According to Ms. Gerber, the boys are always enthusiastic about their study of bridges, and this particular trip still proves to be one of their favorites.