In this episode of Rosie Reads, we’re reading Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge, written and illustrated by Rachel Dougherty (published in 2019)! The book chronicles Roebling’s amazing achievement – the Brooklyn Bridge opened to traffic in 1883 – and explores the engineering behind the bridge’s ground-breaking design in a way kids can absolutely understand!

When you’re finished reading Secret Engineer, ask kids these comprehension questions:

  • Identify two new-to-them science or engineering words and define them, and
  • List the four main parts of the Brooklyn Bridge‘s structure

And we have two fun Rosie Reads projects too! As we learned in the book, Emily Roebling taught herself engineering and saved the Brooklyn Bridge project when her husband became too ill to complete it. There are so many other “shereos” in STEM just like Roebling. Their stories just aren’t the ones that get told over and and over again! For the first activity, ask kids to learn about amazing women scientists and engineers via their own research. Other episodes of Rosie Reads are a great way to start; we’ve read lots of great biographies about women in STEM!

The second Rosie Reads project focuses on designing and building your own bridges! When you start this project, emphasize supports, which were the key innovation in the design of the Brooklyn Bridge. Ask kids to draw their plans out too. If they’re feeling really ambitious, have them use their plans to actually construct their bridges with items you can find around the house or classroom. Toothpicks, marshmallows, straws, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks – it’s all fair game!