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Train Day

Science Lesson
for Train Day

The students will define steam as a form of water vapor which can be used for mechanical power.




  1. Discuss how steam engines were the first trains that did not use people or horses to power them.  They were a great scientific invention that changed the way people traveled and did their work.

  2. Discuss what steam is, using the link to MSN Encarta entry for steam.  

  3. Set up the teacher demonstration of boiling water to make steam.  Use the hot plate under a pot of water or tea kettle.  Once the water boils have the students make observations of what they see coming from the pot or kettle.

  4. Pass out the Steam Power Worksheet and have the students draw a diagram of what they see occurring in the demonstration.  The students should write the equation water + heat = steam (steam being a visible water vapor) on their sheet.

  5. Share information from the Canada Science and Technology Museum web site and make comparisons to the teacher demonstration.  For example, the hot plate is similar to the fire in a steam engine, the steam is similar to the steam used to power the pistons to turn the wheels.  

Other Lesson Ideas

  1. Have the students plan train trips to different places they would like to visit by train.  What is the temperature of those places and what types of clothing would need to be packed?  If reading The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg, have the students pick appropriate clothing for the north pole.

  2. Have a lesson on wheels as a simple machine.  Use any of the following web sites for information: Simple Machines or Simple Machines Web Site List



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