Applied Science - Built Environment (3)
Post Lab

  • Investigating different types of trains.
  • Comparing steam, diesel electric, and electric locomotives.


  • diesel
  • electric
  • locomotive
  • steam
  • Internet
  • worksheet

Students write a story about traveling by train in the early 1900's.


The railway mode of land transportation consists of one or more tracks, each having two parallel steel nails which move freight and passengers. Cars are pulled or pushed by a locomotive. On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental route was created when the Union Pacific Railroad Company met Central Pacific. It was a big step in the development of the west. This event represented, for the first time, the means for items to be quickly moved between the east and west coast.

There are three types of fueling railway systems: electric, steam, and diesel electric. The steam and electric were common in the early days. The diesel electric is common today; but there is a push toward electric, which is non-polluting.

Steam engine - Carries own water supply for steam generation and can use either coal, oil or wood for heating the boiler.

Electric - Locomotive is not self sufficient - electric current is picked up from either an overhead conductor wire or a third rail mounted alongside the running rail. This is the most economical and efficient means of transportation, providing the traffic justifies the capitol expenditure. Electric is quieter and non-polluting.

Diesel electric - Electricity is generated by diesel generators on the locomotive.

Imagine being a child and riding on one of these trains!


  1. Tell students about the "Ophan Train." You can find more information by doing an Internet search on "Orphan Trains." There are several sites with stories of the different children’s experience.

    The Orphan Train movement began in 1854 and continued until 1930. During this 75 year time span, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children were sent "west" from New York on trains to find new families. There were two main organizations that "shipped" children west to new homes. They were: 1) The Children's Aid Society run by Rev.Charles Loring Brace, and 2) The New York Founding Hospital, operated by the Sisters of Charity.
    It was hoped by these organizations, that by sending these "orphans" out west to find new "families" they would have a better chance of leading a happy and productive life, than if left to fend for themselves on the streets of New York. Both of these charitable organizations are still in operation today. The first Kansas_bound Orphan Train arrived in the state in 1867, and the last Kansas train arrived in 1930 (the same year the Orphan Train movement officially ceased operations). During that time, it is estimated that between 5,000 and 6,O00 children were placed in Kansas homes. Some of these children were adopted by their new Kansas families, but many were not.
  2. Ask the students to travel in the shoes of these children. Have them write a paragraph on what it felt like to be on a train for the first time and leaving a world behind and traveling to a new experience.
    Remember the trains in 1854 were steam, and the ones in 1930 were probably diesel.

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