Kids visit RailTEC for day of learning, fun
On August 3, 2016, CEE at Illinois’ RailTEC group introduced 21 students in grades 3-5 to the field of railroad engineering. The students—from Next Generation School STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Studio summer camp—spent the day at Newmark Lab and learned about railway planning, construction, safety and more through a series of hands-on games and activities led by CEE at Illinois professor Christopher Barkan and RailTEC graduate students.
After a brief introduction by Barkan, the children split into groups for a series of activities. They used model freight trains to learn about efficient intermodal transportation. Economics and decision-making were emphasized in an activity that used a wooden track system to demonstrate the fundamentals of operating a railway. Small group activities that focused on railway track design and construction, wheel-rail dynamics, rolling resistance measurement and other topics gave students a chance to learn some fundamental railway engineering concepts.
In addition to the activities and a tour of the crane bay, guest speaker Jack Huddleston of Operation Lifesaver gave a presentation about railroad safety that highlighted the importance of awareness and caution at rail-crossings and tracks.
STEAM Studio by Next Generation School provides Champaign-Urbana area students with an opportunity to explore STEAM-related fields through a series of fun activities, demonstrations, labs and field trips. The field trip to RailTEC was part of a week-long camp that focused on some of the most important inventions of the century, from steam engine trains to nanotechnology.