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Train Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Do you like trains? If so, this is the lesson for you! Come and learn about why we have trains, their history, as well as some of the most famous trains in the word.

Types of Trains

Think about all of the different ways that you can travel. You can walk, ride your bike, drive a car or fly on plane. Another option that you have is to travel on a train. Some train rides are short and travel within a city. These are known as inter-city trains, like the subway train in New York City. Other trains can take you long distances. These trains have the complete hook up! On long-distance trains, you are able to get up and walk around, visit the dining car or even sleep in your very own bed in the sleeping car.

There are six beds in this sleeping car - can you find them all?
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Some trains are used for other things besides carrying passengers. These are known as freight trains. Freight trains, also known as cargo trains, are used to move goods from one location to another. Companies frequently use freight trains because it is one of the more inexpensive ways to transport items. Sometimes, people illegally ride on top of freight trains so that they can get from one place to another for free. This is known as train surfing, and it is very dangerous and against the law.

Train surfing - do not try this at home!
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History of Trains

Trains were first invented in the early 1800s in Great Britain. This train used an engine powered by steam to move down the railroad tracks. Before this, some trains and wagons were used on the tracks, but they had to be pulled by horses. Some historians believe that this is where the term 'horsepower' came from.

Once trains were seen as an effective method of transportation, the number of railways increased tremendously between the mid 1800's and early 1900's. This was known as the 'golden age' of railroads when trains were traveling more miles than ever before. It was also during this time that trains powered by diesel and electricity were invented, which is how many trains are powered today.

A bullet train
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Many technological advances have been made in the production of modern trains, especially bullet trains. While bullet trains travel around 300 miles per hour, this is nothing compared to the 'vacuum train' that is in the works. This floating train would travel through a tube created by a magnetic force in the ocean and would go up to 4,000 miles per hour. How cool would it be to be able to ride on a train that is traveling faster than the speed of sound?

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