Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
BUILDING BIG LogoLocal wonders -- links in this image are at top.
BUILDING BIG Home Page BUILDING BIG Site Map BUILDING BIG Labs BUILDING BIG Databank BUILDING BIG Glossary
Bridges
Domes
Skyscrapers
Dams
Tunnels
Buy the DVD
_   Introduction
Writeup Directions | Sample Investigation | Helpful Hints

What are your Local Wonders? BUILDING BIG wants to know! You may not have the Eiffel Tower or the Hoover Dam in your backyard -- but your community is sure to have many structures with interesting stories waiting to be explored. Local Wonders is a fun way to discover who's been building big around you and how their structures have shaped the world you live in.

Just follow the steps below to get started on your own Local Wonders investigation. Then write up what you find out. To see what's involved, check out a sample Local Wonders investigation writeup.

1. Form a team.
Anybody can investigate a Local Wonder -- but it's most fun to do it with a group. So the first step in your Local Wonders investigation is to team up with other investigators: your classmates, other Boys & Girls Club or youth group members, or a group of interested friends or family, for example.

2. Find a guide.
Civil engineers from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) have volunteered to assist Local Wonders investigations across the United States! Volunteer engineers can help you plan your investigation, help locate resources and people, and help you find answers to your Local Wonders questions. Your teacher or youth group leader can help your group connect with an engineer. For more information, have them consult the Educators' Guide to the Web site.

3. Choose your Local Wonder.
Any structure that you think is interesting because of its appearance, uniqueness, or historical or social impact can be a Local Wonder. Consider local bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers or other buildings, domes, dams, and other constructions. Brainstorm a list of possibilities with your group.

4. Brainstorm questions.
In order to get information, you'll need to ask a lot of questions about your Local Wonder. So what do you want to know about the structure you've chosen? You may want to focus on the engineering behind your Local Wonder, or its social and environmental impact. If your group has trouble coming up with questions, the following suggestions should spark some ideas:

    Engineering focus
  • When was the structure built? How long did construction take?
  • Who built it? How many people were needed?
  • What is it made of? Why did the builders choose that material?
  • Why is it shaped the way it is?
  • What holds it up? What keeps it from falling down?
  • How was it built? Were there any problems during construction? How were they solved?
    Social/environmental impact focus:
  • Why was the structure built? How did the builders decide where to build it?
  • How much did it cost to build? Where did the money come from?
  • How is the structure important to the community?
  • What did the area look like before it was built?
  • How did it change the area around it? Has it had any unexpected effects on the community?

5. Investigate the Local Wonder.
To get started, your group may want to explore some of the features on our Web site to get you thinking about building big:

Next, as a group, design a research plan to investigate your Local Wonder. Your plan might include:

  • Touring the structure (Be sure to take some photos or make some drawings to submit to the Web site)
  • Researching the structure at a library, historical society, or newspaper
  • Interviewing engineers, architects, or contractors who worked on the structure
  • Visiting the municipal planning office, engineer, building inspector, or public works department
  • Interviewing long-time community residents about their memories of the structure
  • Surveying community members about their current opinions on the structure

6. Share it.
Once your group completes its investigation, it's time to write up your Local Wonder. Print the Local Wonders Writeup Directions, which will guide you in the process of writing up your Local Wonder.

If possible, you should include photographs or original drawings of your Local Wonder as part of your submission. Take photos of your Local Wonder, or draw the structure from a variety of perspectives: looking directly at it, looking down on or up at it, imagining what the inside looks like.

Now, create a display for your Local Wonder. You could post your writeup and art on poster board or the wall at your school or program. Your local library might even display it. Invite friends and family to see your Local Wonder. You could even give a presentation about it.

Go to the Local Wonders Writeup Directions.

Check out a sample Local Wonders investigation writeup.


  _
_