Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Steam Locomotives

Steam locomotives are what we think of when we think of trains! So many people love them, and now we do too! You can learn SO MANY things about steam locomotives and steam engines, so we'll just include a few of our favorite resources.

First, a concise explanation of how they work.

An animation of a steam engine. (You can browse this page for other types of animated engines as well---my boys spent hours looking over the animations!)

We really liked this movie, The Golden Age of Steam Trains. You can just start watching at that link and follow links on the sidebar to each successive part, or find them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

We made these folded paper steam locomotives.

This looks like a really fun project to build your own steam engine

This link is to the Peter's Railway site where there are some useful pictures and charts showing how steam locomotives work. I have a lot to say about Peter's Railway and I guess this is as good as any place to say it. In short,  WE LOVE IT! We ran into this site and through it, learned about the Peter's Railway books. I was intrigued by the format and ordered some so we could read them. They are wonderful! We love the stories, the pictures, and most especially the technical explanations. They are detailed enough for even my technical-diagram-loving children, yet clear enough to easily understand. They explain things we couldn't find explained in any of the many, many other train books we read. And the author, Chris Vine, is the nicest person you can imagine. We emailed him with some follow-up technical questions and he responded with a long, detailed answer that included links and pictures and friendly encouragement for the boys to get good at "maths" so they could enjoy physics and engineering to the fullest. :) The boys now just adore Mr. Vine and play "Bongo" and "Fiery Fox" (those are the names of Mr. Vine's miniature steam engine and the engine in the PR books) all day long.

There are some other fun videos on the Peter's Railway site, too, but we are especially glad we found the books. We have already read them over and over, and we are saving up to order the other books as well. We hope Mr. Vine writes more books soon!

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